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After slayings, homeless in Las Vegas fear a serial killer is stalking them

David Montero, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LAS VEGAS -- Peter LaPrairie woke up Sunday morning after a night of cold winds whipped through his sleeping bag near the highway. He walked -- maybe a mile -- toward D Street, where tents and shopping carts were hemmed along a fence like a snowdrift of forgotten humanity.

Being homeless was not the life he planned. But there were things to be thankful for. Like the warm sun on his face.

And that he had survived the night without being shot.

Like most everyone in the area, he knew a killer was out there. Coldblooded, a police officer had told reporters.

"I'm not very social and like to be on my own," said LaPrairie, 46, standing outside a used tire shop. "But right now, that's not an option. I try to find more public places to sleep. And I don't sleep alone."

Two men were already dead and another wounded -- all homeless in a small area a couple of miles north of downtown Las Vegas. All three were shot by the same 6-foot man with the same revolver, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said last week.

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Capt. Robert Plummer said the killings were random. But it also appeared the killer was targeting the homeless, though not exclusively. A fourth victim was shot and wounded in the town of Logandale, about an hour outside of Las Vegas. He was not homeless -- just alone.

Las Vegas police aren't calling their suspect a serial killer, but they might as well. "If he's not, he's on his way to being one," Plummer said.

The FBI defines a serial killing as involving at least three slayings with the reasonable possibility they were committed by the same person.

Plummer said his department has been in contact with law enforcement agencies in Utah, Arizona, California and Nevada in hopes of catching the killer.

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