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Prolific LA serial killer charged with killing woman in Utah in 1998

Libor Jany, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — A man Los Angeles prosecutors once described as one of the city's most prolific serial killers has been charged with another slaying: a woman in Utah in the late 1990s.

Utah authorities on Friday announced the filing of an aggravated murder charge against Chester Turner in the killing of 22-year-old Itisha Camp in Salt Lake City, where Turner had moved after absconding from parole in California.

Turner is on death row in the San Quentin Rehabilitation Center after being convicted of killing 14 women in the 1980s and '90s along the Figueroa Corridor, an area then notorious for sex work, drug crimes and violence. Most of his victims were raped and strangled.

"It must have been profoundly difficult for Ms. Camp's family and loved ones over the last 25 years, not knowing if the suspect in her murder was still out in the public," Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in a statement. "We hope the filing of this charge brings some relief to Ms. Camp's loved ones and our entire community, knowing that the defendant is already behind bars."

Gill said the case was solved thanks to the diligence of Salt Lake police cold case investigators.

Camp's body was found by three teenagers in a stairwell behind a business south of the city's downtown in September 1998. She had a scarf around her neck, and an autopsy revealed she had been strangled. Investigators also discovered evidence that she may have been sexually assaulted.

DNA from the scarf was uploaded into CODIS — the FBI's nationwide Combined DNA Index System — which led investigators to Turner, according to authorities.

 

According to a post on the Utah Department of Public Safety's website, Camp had been in the city for only two or three weeks before her body was found. She had supported herself by doing sex work in the South State Street area, the post said.

Detectives later learned that Turner had moved to Utah from California the same year, in violation of his parole. The investigation turned up a police report from an assault in Salt Lake City in 1998, in which Turner was listed as a victim.

Turner, a one-time pizza deliveryman, was one of at least five serial killers who preyed on victims in South L.A. in the 1980s and '90s, around the height of the city's crack-cocaine epidemic.

Police initially suspected others in three killings of which Turner was ultimately convicted. They charged and convicted a part-time janitor in the 1992 slayings of Mary Edwards and Deborah Williams. That man spent 11 years behind bars before DNA tests exonerated him and implicated Turner in 2004.

Another man was charged in connection with the death of Cynthia Annette Johnson, who was killed in 1997. The case against the man was later dropped, and Turner was convicted of her murder.


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