Cape Girardeau murders lead several states to re-examine cold cases - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Cape Girardeau murders lead several states to re-examine cold cases

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Investigators in several states are looking at unsolved killings from the late 1970s and early 1980s to determine if a recently confessed murderer was involved, and Pennsylvania authorities say he's been linked to one case there by DNA evidence.

Timothy Krajcir, 63, pleaded guilty Monday to the 1982 rape and murder of Southern Illinois University student Deborah Sheppard. Later Monday, he was charged in Cape Girardeau, Mo., with killing five women from 1977 to 1982. Authorities also announced that day that Krajcir admitted to three other killings.

The locations of those killings were not released, but police in Reading, Pa., Marion, Ill., and Paducah, Ky., are taking a close look at Krajcir. Meanwhile, authorities in Missouri, New York, New Jersey and Colorado also are reviewing unsolved cases to see if there is a possible link.

Krajcir, a native of Allentown, Pa., has spent most of his adult life behind bars for sex crimes. After a stint with the Navy, he first entered the Illinois prison system in 1963 on rape charges. Except for a brief period of freedom in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Krajcir has been in prison ever since.

It was DNA evidence that connected Krajcir to the Sheppard killing in Carbondale, Ill., and the Cape Girardeau murders. Authorities in Pennsylvania said DNA evidence also links him to the 1979 murder of 51-year-old Myrtle Rupp, found strangled inside her Reading home.

DNA collected from the murder scene was submitted to a nationwide database and Krajcir came up as a match, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Thomas G. McDaniel said.

"We feel pretty confident in the investigation," McDaniel said. Authorities also are investigating whether Krajcir could have been involved in other unsolved crimes in Pennsylvania.

In Illinois, Krajcir is being looked at in the 1978 stabbing death of 51-year-old Virginia Lee Witte. Marion police said Krajcir provided "pertinent pieces of information" about the investigation and added that her slaying and Sheppard's had several "notable similarities."

In Kentucky, Paducah police stopped short of calling Krajcir a suspect but said in a statement that the department is reviewing cold cases from the 1970s and early 1980s for a possible connection.

"Detectives hope to interview Mr. Krajcir if they conclude he might be involved in any of Paducah's unsolved cases," the department said. Police declined to comment further.

Krajcir attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale around the time of the killings. Cape Girardeau is about 35 miles from Carbondale. Paducah is 55 miles away. Marion is just 16 miles away.

Smith said Krajcir agreed to admit to the killings in Cape Girardeau and Carbondale only after authorities promised not to pursue the death penalty. Smith said it is possible Krajcir killed others besides the ones he's admitted to, but he doubted it.

"He disclosed some things he wasn't really forced to up front," Smith said. "On the other hand, could he have done others? Yes."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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