Wednesday, December 20, 2006

How many are hidden?

A Fayette County, Kentucky, grand jury yesterday indicted Robert F. Smallwood in the murders of three women over a seven-year period. Similar to the Ipswich killings in England, the three victims had histories of drug/alcohol/prostitution arrests. All apparently were strangled.

Police weren't able to connect the killings until DNA science advanced enough that they could match DNA found on all three victims. They also connected the same DNA to the 1993 rape of an 83-year-old retired school teacher. When police finally found a suspect, he was already in prison for violating probation on a drug charge. Investigators haven't said how they connected the case to Smallwood, but police said early on that there was no match of the DNA in the national DNA database.

Serial killers have always been seen as rare. But this case raises a question for me: If this killer, whether of not he is really Smallwood, went undetected for at least seven years, how many others are out there, hidden in society?

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