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Dead Man Is Identified as Serial Killer of 10

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A man who killed himself with the same .38-caliber pistol used in four of the Skid Row serial murders last fall has been identified as the gunman who shot to death 10 men and wounded another in the pre-dawn street attacks, Los Angeles police said Thursday.

The body of Michael Player, 26, was found last Oct. 10 in a West Los Angeles motel room--one day after the last of the shootings linked to a serial killer occurred.

A pistol found at the motel and other evidence, including a shoe matching a footprint at one of the murder scenes, convinced homicide detectives that it was Player who shot the 10 men in the head, execution-style, last September and October.

“That closes the case,” Chief Daryl F. Gates said. “We’ve been relatively certain for a week, but . . . yesterday, the detectives decided that they conservatively could say that ‘Yes, this is the right person.’ ”

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Also, an 11th shooting victim, who survived the attack, recently identified Player through photographs as the man who shot him, Gates added.

Detectives linked Player to all of the murders despite the fact that only one of two guns used in the homicides was recovered. A .22-caliber gun, which was linked to the first six killings, was never found.

What initially led detectives to Player, who used the alias of Marcus Nisby, was the abrupt way that the shootings ended.

The serial killings, which began Sept. 4 with the discovery of the body of Rodolfo Roque, 54, in the Culver City area, abruptly ended Oct. 9 with the wounding of Terrance Dunn in the 5900 block of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. No more shootings that resembled those linked to the killer occurred, Gates said.

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He said that investigators, believing that the killer might have been taken off the streets by unsuspecting authorities, began a search of city and county jails and the coroner’s office.

At the morgue, officers discovered that a man, identified as Marcus Nisby, was found dead in a room at the St. Regis Motel, 11955 Wilshire Blvd. The man, dressed in new clothes, had been shot in the head with a .38-caliber pistol, and the coroner’s office had ruled the death a suicide.

Detectives found $3,000 in cash on the body and were unable to explain where the money came from.

Pacific Division detectives, informed of Nisby’s death, recalled that that was the name used by a person who offered a tip at the scene of the first murder--near Venice Boulevard and Clarington Avenue.

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Gates said that detectives took Nisby to the Pacific Division headquarters for further questioning but that the information he provided proved false. “They were suspicious of him, but they didn’t have enough to hold him,” he said.

The results of ballistic tests on the pistol found in the motel room showed that it had fired the bullets taken from four of the victims and Dunn, Gates said.

Officers then obtained a search warrant for a Los Angeles-area home where the shoe and other evidence were seized.

Player was described by Gates as a man whose occupation was “robbery, grand theft, burglary and murder.”

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Court records show that Player was arrested in October, 1983, after he tried to steal the wallet of a female RTD police officer at a bus stop at 7th Street and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. He pleaded no contest in the case and was jailed for 180 days, records show.

In July, 1985, he was sentenced to 60 days in County Jail for violating probation on the 1983 case after he was apprehended with a loaded .32-caliber pistol, the records indicate.

Records also show that Player was ordered to state prison after being convicted for armed robbery.

No further details could be learned of Player’s past because late Thursday the search warrant used by detectives to obtain the shoe and other evidence was sealed by Los Angeles Municipal Judge Glenette Blackwell as it was being copied for a reporter.

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Times staff writer Paul Feldman contributed to this article.


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