DNA evidence has linked a 46-year-old man to the 2001 and 2002 slayings of two transient women whose bodies were found after they were sexually assaulted and strangled, police said Thursday, bringing the number of .
Santa Monica transient Edric Dashell Gross was taken into custody Wednesday at Pan Pacific Park in the West Hollywood area on suspicion of murdering Jacqueline Ovsak in 2001 and Dana Caper in 2002.
Capital murder charges have been filed against Gross, along with special allegations of rape and residential burglary. The Los Angeles District Attorney will not decide whether to seek the death penalty until the case moves closer to trial, a spokeswoman said.
The Santa Monica Police Department said it was able to link Gross to the crimes after running DNA tests on rape kits. The motive in both cases, however, is still unclear, said detective Larry Nicols.
"I wish we knew what the motive was," Nicols said. "It's safe to say that this was pretty much a DNA case."
At 42, Ovsak was strangled, sexually assaulted, and left for dead in an abandoned house slated for demolition in the 1500 block of Seventh Street. Her body was found April 3, 2001 by construction workers, but there were no witnesses to the crime.
A year later on Oct. 29, 2002, passersby in Palisades Park discovered the 41-year-old body of Dana Caper on the bluffs below. She, too, had been sexually assaulted and strangled to death. There were no witnesses to the crime.
Both women were transients who frequented the areas where their bodies were found. Their homicides were investigated until leads ran out and the cases went cold. Then, five years ago, investigators assigned to the department's cold case unit, re-opened both investigations
"We've been working on these cases since 2007, so it's a relief that they were filed," Nicols said.
Gross is being held without bail and is due to be arraigned Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, according to the D.A.
It is the second cold case suspect to be arrested this year. In July, Patrick David Salmon, 53, of a 16-year-old boy on Marine Street. Authorities allege Salmon was the gunman.
Though not a cold case, the District Attorney's office is also pursuing 31 charges against a Huntington Beach-based financial advisor of Alexander Merman, whose body was found stabbed to death in his Montana Avenue apartment.