SAN DIEGO - The hunt is on for possible victims in San Diego after police named a former San Diegan as a suspected serial killer accused of killing three women in Los Angeles.
Samuel McDowell, 72, was extradited to California from Kentucky on an outstanding drug charge. He's now charged in three murder cases in Los Angeles dating back to the late 1980s after DNA matches linked him to the cases.
"I think Samuel McDowell, aka Samuel Little, was a monster that preyed on vulnerable people," said Los Angeles Police Department Det. Mitzi Roberts.
Detectives said McDowell targeted high-risk women, such as prostitutes and those with substance abuse problems. According to police, the body of one woman was found in an alley. Another was found in a Dumpster, and another woman was found in an abandoned garage.
Police said he met the women in bars, and the next time they're seen again, their bodies were found.
Police said McDowell lived a life of crime for more than five decades in 24 states. He was suspected in murder and attempted murder cases in Mississippi. After he was acquitted of murder in Florida in 1983, he landed in San Diego.
In September 1984, he attacked a woman in her 20s at night in the downtown area, according to authorities.
According to court documents, the woman was walking along 10th Avenue and B Street when someone grabbed her, put her in a chokehold and shoved her in a car
At a vacant lot near state Route 94, the woman said McDowell was "playing a game and applying a lot of pressure on my neck, and then easing up for a moment ... so I wouldn't pass out."
She said he sexually assaulted her before he threw her out of the car.
A month later, near that same lot, a patrol car found McDowell zipping his pants near a prostitute who was unconscious. Police said he tried to strangle her.
He was convicted of charges, including assault, and he served half of a four-year sentence before heading to Los Angeles.
Police are now taking a close look at unsolved murder cases and assault cases in San Diego to see if there's a connection.
"We believe there are more victims out there who just didn't report it or those who did report it but the case was never solved," said Roberts.
Police said McDowell lived in El Centro for parts of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Detectives told 10News they've talked to the two San Diego victims, who realize how lucky they are to have survived their encounter with McDowell.