A woman found murdered in a Watts alley Monday may be the 18th victim of the Southside Serial Killer, who has primarily targeted black prostitutes, police said.
The unidentified woman, whose body was found near 105th and Grape streets, apparently had been strangled and had been dead for about a day, detectives said.
A woman who lives near where the body was found said the victim appeared to be in her early 20s.
"She was totally naked and propped up against a shed," said the woman, who asked not be identified.
Other neighbors said they thought they recognized the victim as a woman who once lived in the neighborhood.
Police spokesman Cmdr. William Booth said the murder could not be officially linked to the serial killer until an autopsy is completed.
Detectives on the task force investigating the killings, however, said evidence found at the scene fits the pattern of other slayings linked to the serial killer.
The assaults and killings date back to September, 1983. All but two of the stabbed and strangled victims have been black, and 15 had arrest records for prostitution. Their bodies have generally been found in isolated areas of South-Central Los Angeles.
Police Lt. John Zorn, who heads the joint city-county investigation, has said from the onset that there may be more than one killer, a belief echoed Monday by a task force detective who told United Press International that it appears that "several copycat killers" may be involved.
Women who have survived the slayer's attacks have provided police with descriptions enabling officers to develop a composite photo of the suspect. He is described as black, between 30 and 35 years old, 5 feet 10 to 6 feet tall, with black hair, smooth skin, a medium build and muscular arms and chest. He has worn a small mustache and has straight white teeth.
Rewards totaling $35,000 have been offered by the city and county for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer or killers.