Police investigate assaults for possible Krajcir connection

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Krajcir has confessed to two unknown assaults

Police in Mount Vernon, Ill., are looking into two sexual assaults that alleged serial killer Timothy W. Krajcir confessed to committing in the area in the early 1980s, though no victims have yet surfaced that match the crimes he described.

In a Dec. 3 prison interview with Lt. Paul Echols of the Carbondale Police Department and Detective Jim Smith of the Cape Girardeau Police Department, Krajcir, 63, admitted to killing five Cape Girardeau women in 1977 and 1982, as well as committing murders in Paducah, Ky., and Marion, Ill.

When Echols and Smith asked Krajcir if there was anything else, he described the two sexual assaults in Mount Vernon, Echols said.

Krajcir said one of the assaults occurred somewhere behind the Wal-Mart and the other was near the hospital, Echols said.

He also confessed to stabbing a woman in her apartment across the street from the Mount Vernon post office on Broadway during late summer, Echols said.

According to the confession, Krajcir gained entry through an unlocked bathroom window on the left side corner of the apartment building and waited in the shower until the victim, a woman he described as appearing to be in her late 50s, but said could have been older, walked in to use the bathroom.

When she saw Krajcir, he said she started to scream, and her screams continued for at least a minute.

"He said he kept telling her he wouldn't hurt her if she stopped screaming," Echols said.

Krajcir called the victim a "feisty old gal," Echols said, and when she continued to scream for help, he drew a pocket knife and stabbed her several times in the side and abdomen before she fell quiet and he escaped out the window.

Krajcir told Echols he thought attack occurred during late summer, because he wore a T-shirt, Echols said.

The details of Krajcir's confession are similar to a 1981 attempted murder case in which Grover W. Thompson, a 46-year-old Mississippi man, was convicted.

In that case, 72-year-old Ida White was home at her apartment at 1300 Broadway, across the street from the post office, on Sept. 7, 1981, and went into the bathroom to find a man standing in her shower.

She testified at the 1982 jury trial that the man showed her a small knife and said, "I will kill you and all the white people here," before stabbing her "in the stomach and all the way around."

White's neighbor, who worked for an ambulance company, testified that he heard her screams and ran into the apartment to find the assailant climbing out the bathroom window. He grabbed the man's sleeve, ripping it, but realized he needed to help White, and let the man escape.

Police found Thompson an hour later in the post office lobby, lying on the floor. The only identification he could produce was a bus pass, and said he was waiting for the next Greyhound back to Mississippi, according to testimony.

A small hunting knife was retrieved from his person, and blood was found on the blade, but the amount was too small for analysis, a criminalist testified at trial. Police also located some clothing Thompson had with him that appeared to match the shred taken from the scene.

The neighbor identified Thompson after watching him for several minutes behind a two-way mirror at the police station, but Thompson's public defender contested the identification because police told the witness Thompson was a suspect in the crime.

A jury deliberated for less than four hours before finding Thompson guilty.

Thompson had no previous violent criminal history, but did have a string of municipal charges for trespassing, sleeping on sidewalks and public intoxication in Florida, where he used to live.

He was also treated for schizophrenia for several years at a mental hospital in Mississippi, according to prison records.

Thompson died in the Illinois department of Corrections in 1996, Echols said.

"The evidence they had was pretty compelling," said Echols.

Echols said he didn't know what Krajcir's motivation would be to lie about the crime, and that he had been truthful with law enforcement in all of the other investigations concerning the nine women he confessed to killing.

Krajcir pleaded guilty to two Illinois murders in December and January. He still faces charges in connection with murders in Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Kentucky.

Mount Vernon police chief Chris Mendenall told the Morning Sentinel newspaper that the confession was false because White and her neighbor both said the assailant had been black, and the evidence against Thompson was "overwhelming."

Krajcir is white, and White's attacker was described as a black man. Thompson was black.

Officials at the police station in Mount Vernon denied the Southeast Missourian's request for an interview Tuesday.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245

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