A Lancaster man, arrested on suspicion of kidnaping two Los Angeles-area prostitutes last year and taking them to a remote canyon in the Angeles National Forest, is also under investigation in connection with the deaths of at least two prostitutes whose bodies were found nearby, authorities said Friday.
Lt. Dan Burt, a homicide investigator with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said there are sufficient similarities between the kidnapings and the slayings to cast suspicion on Raymond Kenneth Singer, 43, an eyeglass technician who was arrested at work Thursday in Pasadena.
The body of a 22-year-old Van Nuys prostitute, Lisa R. Jones, was found dumped off a cliff near the Angeles Forest Highway in Acton in mid-January, and the bodies of two other women have been found in the same general area in the last 18 months.
“There are other reported homicides in the area, and we have not ruled him out as a suspect in any of those cases,” Burt said. He added that investigators do not know if those cases are linked to a series of prostitute slayings in South Los Angeles during recent years.
Singer, who has held a variety of jobs, including that of an insurance agent, has been under surveillance for six weeks in the hopes that investigators would catch him with another prostitute, Burt said. They decided to arrest him this week out of concern that they might lose track of him and that he might kidnap someone else, Burt said.
Singer, who moved from Van Nuys to the Lake Los Angeles area several years ago, is also a suspect in the kidnapings of at least two other prostitutes last year.
In each of the four kidnapings, authorities say, the woman was abducted from the Los Angeles area and driven to the mountains. In one case the woman willingly got in the abductor’s car, but in the others, the assailant brandished a knife or handgun or overpowered the women, forcing them into his car, investigators said.
In all four incidents, the women escaped before they were harmed, although the abductor informed them he intended to rape them, Burt said. In one instance the victim opened the door of the car when her abductor parked in the mountains, hit him in the head with a rock and fled. In another, the woman apparently yanked the steering wheel and her assailant slammed into an embankment, allowing her to get away. In a third incident, which occurred last November, the woman ran off in the dark after pretending she had to go to the bathroom.
In that incident, Burt said, the woman flagged down a car only to find Singer in it. He screamed at her, but she escaped again and was able to flag down an off-duty sheriff’s deputy. Other sheriff’s deputies were called, and they drove the woman around the area until they spotted Singer. He was arrested on suspicion of kidnaping then, but when his accuser later disappeared, the charges were dropped.
2 Names Released
Authorities were subsequently able to find the woman, and Singer was arrested Thursday again on suspicion of kidnaping her with the intent to rape, as well as on suspicion of the kidnaping and attempted rape of a woman abducted in August. Authorities will not identify either woman, but they have released the names of the victims in the other two kidnaping cases, in which Singer is a suspect but has not been charged. Both disappeared after reporting their abductions, supplying police with descriptions of the assailant and his car that match Singer’s, Burt said. But until Janice Maxwell, abducted from South-Central Los Angeles in May, and Alicia Romero, abducted from Compton in May, turn up, authorities can not file charges in connection with their cases, Burt said. Deputies have said both are prostitutes.
The Sheriff’s Department is also investigating reports, given by one of Singer’s purported victims, that a fifth prostitute was kidnaped and taken to the same general area, where she was raped.
Jones was apparently abducted from the Van Nuys street corner she frequented the night of Jan. 13. Her partially clad body was found in the brush the next day by a woman visiting a nearby picnic area with her children. Investigators would not say how Jones had been killed.
The brushy canyons of the Acton area are a favorite dumping ground for bodies, Burt said, adding that the bodies of another prostitute from the Los Angeles area and a third woman have been found in the general vicinity in the last 18 months.
Singer, who is married and has a child, is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail at the Central Jail.