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Jury convicts California serial killer Horace Vaultz, who eluded police for many years

Aug. 19 (UPI) — A California man who investigators firmly believe was a serial killer has been convicted of raping and killing two ladies before he disappeared for many years and was ultimately exposed by his DNA.

On Thursday, a jury found 67-year-old Horace Van Vaultz Jr. guilty in the assaults and deaths of Selena Keough in 1981 and Mary Duggan in 1986.

Vaultz was finally arrested in 2019 after police matched DNA left at the scenes to his family lineage through genealogical websites.

“Utilizing the latest in technology and forensics, we could actually secure a conviction against a person who targeted ladies,” LA County District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement. “I am hoping that [this] guilty verdict provides some comfort to the victims’ families who’ve waited a lot more than three decades to see this result.”

Vaultz in addition has been associated with a third woman who was simply killed in Ventura County in 1988.

The groups of both women were in the courtroom because the verdict was read.

At trial, defense lawyers argued that Vaultz was guilty only of experiencing consensual sex with the ladies, and that it had been another person who arrived later and killed them.

Prosecutors in the event scoff at that notion.

“To trust the defendant’s story, you’d need to throw out all of your good sense,” LA County Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said during closing arguments, in accordance with KNBC-TV.

“You’d need to believe this defendant may be the most unlucky person on earth, to possess three women all arrive dead with the defendant’s semen included.”

Keough, 21, was found dead in Montclair, Calif., on July 16, 1981, and forensic evidence was collected — nonetheless it will be a very long time before DNA analysis evolved to the sophisticated level it’s on today.

When police ran the killer’s DNA by way of a national database, the outcomes led them to another women’s case. Duggan, 22, was found dead in the trunk of an automobile in Burbank, Calif., on June 9, 1986.

Police also ran the crime scene DNA by way of a genealogical database to attempt to find a few of the killer’s relatives. Ultimately, Vaultz was arrested throughout a traffic stop almost 3 years ago.

Genealogical databases have recently helped detectives solve several cold murder cases — including greater than a dozen which were related to the Golden State Killer in 2018.

The 3rd case that prosecutors said was associated with Vaultz’s DNA involved a 25-year-old woman named Janna Rowe. Police say they later found Rowe’s jewelry on the list of belongings of Vaultz’s mother.

At his trial, Vaultz testified he couldn’t remember meeting the ladies after sexual encounters with a huge selection of partners. He faces life in prison without parole at his sentencing on Sept. 19.

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