Police in Lexington, Kentucky have identified a man they say killed three women and raped another
Robert Franklin Smallwood Jr., 32, is charged with crimes spanning 13 years and linked by DNA. Smallwood has been in prison on another charge since July. Police announced in August that they had linked the three slayings but said they had not linked the DNA evidence to a specific killer. Police would not specify yesterday how they linked Smallwood's DNA to the crimes, but indicated it happened in the past few days.
The victims -- Doris Ann Roberts, Sonora Lynn Allen and Erica C. Butler -- were killed over a span of seven years, beginning with Roberts in 1999. Butler was slain in April.
Police also announced yesterday that DNA linked Smallwood to the previously unsolved 1993 rape of Viola J. Greene, 83, a retired schoolteacher who died in 1998 of natural causes.
Smallwood is in state prison in La Grange after violating probation this summer from a drug conviction.
Any connection among the victims remains unclear.
Roberts was found dead in her East Fourth Street apartment, apparently from strangulation and suffocation, according to the Fayette County coroner's office. Allen also died of strangulation and was found dumped in a Fortune Drive parking lot. Butler appeared to die of injuries caused by blunt trauma; she was found inside her home on Kenton Street.
Previously, authorities had said the three murder victims led "a high-risk lifestyle" but declined to elaborate then and again yesterday. The women accrued a mix of drug and alcohol charges, and Butler had prostitution charges, according to court records and interviews.
However, that wasn't the case with Greene, Lt. James Curless said.
Greene's home was broken into early one morning in 1993 and she was raped and sodomized, Curless said.
Smallwood was later indicted for the 1998 rape and sodomy of another Lexington woman, but was found not guilty by a jury, according to court records.
The only thing that connected the other four cases was matching DNA, Curless said.
"Evidence collected from each of these crimes linked him to these four cases," he said.
A month ago, police announced that DNA evidence found at the crime scene of the three homicides pointed to the same man, possibly Lexington's first serial killer. However, at the time, they did not know that person's identity. Police had sought profiler assistance from the FBI. Authorities distributed a composite sketch and held a press conference.
Smallwood had been in prison since July.
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