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Son of alleged serial killer is suspected in Melrose Avenue stun-gun attack

February 1, 2010 | 10:02 am

A suspect who LAPD investigators said jolted a woman with a stun gun during an attempted robbery on Melrose Avenue is the 22-year-old son of the man accused of being the "Westside rapist" serial killer.

David Victor Thomas was arrested in the stun-gun attack and is being held without bail on a parole violation. Hollywood Division Lt. Bob Binder said he's the son of John Floyd Thomas, who allegedly raped and killed older women in the 1970s and '80s on Los Angeles' Westside and in the Inland Valley.

The younger Thomas was arrested by Hollywood Division officers Wednesday after a group of valets from a karaoke club in the 4800 block Melrose Avenue near Western Avenue witnessed the attack, police said. The men chased Thomas and held him down until police arrived.

Police had been seeking to identify the female victim, who left the scene shortly before officers arrived. She contacted detectives over the weekend, Binder said. He said she is in her 40s. Investigators are looking into whether the younger Thomas committed other similar crimes and are encouraging anyone with information to contact police.

The younger Thomas is on parole for a drug-related charge and is classified as a non-violent offender. He was living in the same South Los Angeles apartment he shared with his father, a veteran state insurance claims adjuster who was charged last April with the killings of Ethel Sokoloff, 68, in the Mid-Wilshire area in 1972, and Elizabeth McKeown, 67, in Westchester in 1976.

Thomas John Floyd Thomas, 73, currently faces a total of seven murder counts. Authorities say he could be responsible for as many as 30 homicides.

The so-called Westside rapist attacked white seniors in neighborhoods from Hollywood to Inglewood. The crimes led to the formation of a special police task force in the mid-1970s. Victims ranged in age from the 50s to the 90s. Authorities say Thomas manually strangled his victims before placing bedding over their faces.

The attacks appeared to stop in 1978. That year, a witness took down Thomas' license plate after he raped a woman in Pasadena. He was convicted and sent to state prison. When he was released in 1983, he moved to Chino.

At the same time, a killer began stalking older women, this time in the Inland Valley area.During that period, Thomas worked in neighboring Pomona as a peer counselor at a hospital. The killings--which authorities say may have numbered a half-dozen during this period--stopped inexplicably in 1989.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: John Floyd Thomas. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

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