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Case files: Timothy W. Krajcir

Thursday, October 15, 2009

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Timothy W. Krajcir
Name: Timothy W. Krajcir

Age: 64

Current location: Stateville Correctional Center, Stateville, Ill.

Born: Eastern Pennsylvania

Crimes:

* Aug. 12, 1977: Murder of Mary and Brenda Parsh

* Nov. 16, 1977: Murder of Sheila Cole

* Dec. 28, 1981: Forcible sodomy with a weapon

* Jan. 9, 1982: Rape with a weapon

* Jan. 27, 1982: Murder and rape of Margie Call

* June 21, 1982: Murder and rape of Mildred Wallace

* April 25, 1982: Three counts of forcible sodomy with a weapon

* May 17, 1982: First-degree robbery

Arrested: Dec. 10, 2008

Convicted: April 4, 2008

Sentence: 13 life sentences

Prior criminal history: Rape, child molestation

Facts:

* Krajcir attended Southern Illinois University, and was pursuing degrees in psychology and criminal justice administration. At the same time, Cape Girardeau police chief Carl Kinnison and Carbondale, Ill., detective Paul Echols became acquaintances in the same program, and later worked together in solving the murders Krajcir committed.

* Krajcir was the first person to be convicted in Jackson County, Ill., as a sexually dangerous person, meaning he remained in prison on a civil charge as long as he was not attending treatment programs.

* When Krajcir was paroled in May 1981, a prison psychiatrist wrote his evaluations that Krajcir did not have homicidal tendencies and was not likely to be violent. Eight months later, he killed his sixth victim, Margie Call.

* For a time, Krajcir was considered the prime suspect for a series of rapes committed in Lehigh Valley, Pa., by a perpetrator who came to be known as the "Southside Rapist."

* After he was arrested in 1983 on a parole violation in Pennsylvania, Krajcir attempted an escape from prison, during which he fell while trying to scale down the wall of the building on a rope made of bedsheets. He suffered a broken leg during the fall, and guards easily caught up with him.

When Timothy Wayne Krajcir stood before Cape Girardeau County Circuit Judge Benjamin F. Lewis in the old federal courthouse April 4, 2008, and received 13 life sentences for felonies he committed nearly 30 years ago, Cape Girardeau closed the books on the only serial killer in its history.

Krajcir's crime spree, from 1977 to 1982, included five murders of women in Cape Girardeau, one in Pennsylvania and three in Illinois.

His guilty plea to five counts of first-degree and capital murder in Cape Girardeau, plus first-degree armed robbery and seven charges of sexual assault put an end to five of the city's most baffling homicides.

The mysteries began unraveling in November 2008, when Cape Girardeau detective Jimmy Smith linked Krajcir to an unsolved rape that occurred in the city in 1982.

At the time, Krajcir was facing murder charges in the killing of a Southern Illinois University student, which occurred the same year, in Carbondale.

A few months before Krajcir had been charged with the murder, Smith had been assigned to the department's "cold" cases, among them the 1977 murders of Mary and Brenda Parsh, and Sheila Cole, and those of Margie Call and Mildred Wallace, who were killed in 1982.

When Smith saw the media coverage of Krajcir's arrest for the murder of Deborah Sheppard , he wondered if there could be a connection between that homicide and the ones committed in Cape Girardeau during the same year.

At first, Echols didn't think Krajcir had ever been in Cape Girardeau. He and Smith began poring through unsolved home invasions, murders and rapes from decades ago, looking for a pattern that fit that of the Sheppard killing.

When they found the police report describing the rape, they knew they had a fit, Echols said in previous interviews.

Physical evidence from Wallace's murder matched a sample from Krajcir found in CODIS, the national database containing DNA from convicted felons.

Krajcir's DNA was previously in CODIS because he was imprisoned in Illinois as a sexual predator at the time he was charged in the Sheppard murder.

When police found that a partial palm print taken from the Wallace residence matched Krajcir, they knew they had their man.

Smith suspected Krajcir had been involved in the other unsolved homicides as well, but there was no solid physical link to those, and without a confession, there was little chance of linking him to the other murders.

Echols and Smith interviewed Krajcir about the other homicides, and he denied any knowledge of them, but said he might reconsider if the death penalty were not on the table.

On Thanksgiving Day in 2008, Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle discussed the issue of Krajcir's reluctance to talk with the families of all five murder victims.

They all agreed that closure was more important than vengeance, and they were willing to let go of the death penalty.

Days later, Krajcir discussed each murder with Smith and Echols in video-recorded confessions from within a room in Big Muddy Correctional Center in Ina, Ill.

By Dec. 10, 2008, Cape Girardeau police had enough evidence against Krajcir to charge him with the murders, and the arrest was announced at a news conference hours after Krajcir pleaded guilty in an Illinois court to Sheppard's murder.

In that killing, he received a 40-year sentence, and was later extradited temporarily to Missouri to stand trial.

By that point, Krajcir's rap sheet included a conviction for the murder of Virgina Witte in Marion, Ill., charges of killing Myrtle Rupp in South Temple, Pa., and Joyce Tharp, killed in Illinois but kidnapped from Paducah, Ky., in 1979.

He had also added to his string of confessions a stabbing that occurred in Mount Vernon, Ill., in 1981, saying it had been an attempted sexual assault gone awry.

Another man, Grover Thompson, had been convicted and died in prison for the crime Krajcir descsribed, and Mount Vernon police were reluctant to take a second look at the case, since it was closed.

Former public defender Steve Swofford, who represented Thompson during the original trial, said of every client he'd ever had, Thompson was only one of two he'd felt certain were innocent of the crimes of which they had been convicted.

Krajcir is currently into the second year of the 80-year sentence he received in Jackson County, Ill., and Williamson County, Ill., for the Sheppard and Witte killings.

In June 2008 he received a life sentence in Pennsylvania for murdering Rupp, a widowed nurse slain in her South Temple home in 1979.

As of May 20, 2008, he had not been tried for the murder of Joyce Tharp, and remained charged with her kidnapping.

He has confessed to kidnapping Tharp from her Paducah home and bringing her to Carbondale -- where he lived -- killing her, and driving her back to Paducah, where her body was found near a church in the Forest Hill neighborhood.