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Police to search landfills for bodies of missing O.C. women

Crime, Law and JusticeCrimeHomicideLaw Enforcement

Police will begin searching Orange County landfills in a hunt for the bodies of three women authorities say they believe were killed by two registered sex offenders charged with raping and murdering women who vanished from some of the county’s toughest streets.

Franc Cano, 27, and Steven Dean Gordon, 45, are accused of killing four women, though police said they anticipate there is at least one additional victim.

In a videotaped court hearing Tuesday morning, the two appeared briefly but did not enter a plea. Gordon was dressed in a jail-issued orange jumpsuit, and Cano wore a black T-shirt with the word “California” on the front.

Cano's public defender, Darren Thompson, said his client suffers from asthma, eczema and stomach ulcers. He asked that jail doctors see him as soon as possible because he was having trouble breathing.

So far, police said they have recovered the body of only one of the women. The disappearances date back to last fall.

Jarrae Nykkole Estepp’s naked body was found on a conveyor belt at a trash-sorting facility in Anaheim last month. The 21-year-old had been seen on the streets of Anaheim before her death, and had a history of prostitution in Oklahoma, where she previously lived.

Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada said it’s possible that the bodies of the three other women were dumped in a trash container like Estepp's was and could be in a landfill.

The other women -- Kianna Rae Jackson, 20; Martha Anaya, 28; and Josephine Monique Vargas, 34 -- went missing last fall, all after heading off on routine errands in Santa Ana.

Police also said they have recovered an RV that was parked near the trash-sorting facility, and that the two suspects were connected to the vehicle.

"They're transients," said Larry Yellin, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case. "I think their primary lives are in their cars."

Both men had served prison terms for sex attacks on children under the age of 14 and were wearing court-ordered GPS devices, police said.

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adolfo.flores@latimes.com

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