Families of serial killer victims speak out as 'Westside Rapist' sentenced to life in prison
Family members of the victims of the "Westside Rapist" serial killer spoke out as a former insurance claims adjuster was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for seven murders.
Detectives describe John Floyd Thomas Jr., 74, as one of the region's most prolific serial killers, saying that he remains a suspect in at least 10 to 15 additional slayings, based on the dates of the crimes and his method of killing.
"He has been my worst nightmare," said Tracy Michaels, who flew from Austin, Texas, to witness Friday's conclusion of a 35-year search for justice after her great-aunt, Elizabeth McKeown, who was raped, strangled and stuffed in the trunk of her car. "For me the death penalty would've been too easy."
Michaels, who as a teenager lived with her great-aunt, asked Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli to "remove any comfort from this man's life. … Make the rest of his life feel like what he's made our lives feel like."
In a statement read in court Friday by the prosecutor, "Westside Rapist" victim Adrienne Askew's niece described Thomas as "a sadistic predator who preyed on the vulnerable."
Susanne Askew Livingston wrote that her aunt worked as a school crossing guard and librarian's assistant despite being developmentally disabled. "Please never let him see the light of day, again," she implored the judge.
Brian Askew, Adrienne's nephew, recalled watching as an 8-year-old boy when his father broke down in tears after a phone call notified him of his sister's death. His father, who he said felt "tremendous amounts of guilt" for allowing his sister to live alone after their mother's death, passed away before Thomas was caught.
"When I think how my dad would've reacted, I get emotional," Askew said outside the courtroom.
Interactive map: Serial killers operating in South L.A.
-- Victoria Kim and Jack Leonard
Photo: John Floyd Thomas Jr., 74, pleaded guilty to seven murders Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times