SANTA ANA (AP) — One of two registered sex offenders charged with raping and killing four California women confessed to a police detective after his arrest earlier this year, testimony from a grand jury transcript unsealed Monday revealed.
Steven Dean Gordon, 45, also told police that he and co-defendant Frank Cano killed a fifth woman who has never been identified.
Both men were wearing electronic monitoring devices during the time period when authorities say they attacked the women, although the transcript reveals that Gordon was not being monitored for a roughly nine-day period during which he said he and Cano killed one of the victims.
Gordon’s state electronic anklet had been removed and he had yet to be fitted with a federal anklet, he told Trapp.
The confession by Gordon came during an interview that lasted more than 13 hours the day after Gordon’s arrest, Anaheim police Detective Julissa Trapp told the grand jury.
The transcript contains little new information about the 28-year-old Cano.
Both defendants have pleaded not guilty. Phone and email messages left for Cano’s attorney, Houman Fakhimi, and Gordon’s attorney, Denise Gragg, were not immediately returned.
Trapp reported that Gordon first said Cano didn’t know of Gordon’s plans to strangle the women. But by the end of the interview, Gordon said Cano had strangled each woman while Gordon punched them in the stomach to “get the air out faster.” The women were then stripped of their clothes, washed and placed in a Dumpster.
The body of the final woman killed, 21-year-old Jarrae Nykkole Estepp of Oklahoma, was found on a conveyor belt at a trash-recycling plant in Anaheim but the bodies of the other three have never been found.
The fifth woman, referenced by Gordon in the interview, has not been identified and the two are not charged in her death.
The two were arrested on April 11 after Estepp’s body was found the month before.
Police believe Cano and Gordon have known each other since at least 2010, when Cano cut off his GPS device and fled to Alabama, where he was arrested with Gordon.
Two years later, in 2012, they again snipped off their monitoring devices and boarded a Greyhound bus to Las Vegas using fake names. The men were arrested by federal agents on May 8, 2012, after a two-week stay at Circus Circus Hotel & Casino, according to federal court documents.
Gordon traveled using the alias Dexter McCoy and Cano chose Joseph Madrid, authorities said.
Cano and Gordon were previously ordered to register as sex offenders after being convicted in separate cases of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14.
Gordon was convicted in 1992 and also has a 2002 kidnapping conviction, while Cano’s conviction dates back to 2008.
The first woman to disappear was Kianna Jackson, 20, of Las Vegas, who arrived in Santa Ana in October 2013 for a court hearing on misdemeanor charges of prostitution and loitering to commit prostitution. Her mother said she stopped responding to her text messages soon after she arrived.
Josephine Monique Vargas, 34, was last seen Oct. 24, 2013, after leaving a family birthday party to go to a store.
Martha Anaya, 28, asked her boyfriend to pick up their 5-year-old daughter so she could work on Nov. 12, 2013, but then stopped responding to his messages later that night.
Police said she also had a history of prostitution.
Estepp’s mother, Jodi Michelle Pier-Estepp, said her daughter had a troubled past but was working to turn her life around when she traveled to California to visit her brother and stopped in Orange County along the way. It wasn’t clear what connection she had to the area.
When they were arrested, Cano and Gordon had been living in a car and on the streets. Gordon had a job cleaning cars at an auto body shop in Anaheim.