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Suspected LA serial killer charged with 5 killings

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LOS ANGELES — A man already accused of killing two women and suspected in the deaths of as many as 30 more was charged Wednesday with raping and murdering five other victims.

John Floyd Thomas, 73, was charged with killing the women between 1975 and 1986. The women – 56 to 80 years old – had all been strangled.

Thomas will stand trial for all seven deaths simultaneously. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail. Calls to his court-appointed lawyers were not immediately returned.

Thomas was initially charged April 2 with two counts of murder after a match from a DNA sample implicated him in the sexual assault and death of a retired school administrator and another woman in the 1970s.

The five new charges came as authorities continue to re-examine cold cases for DNA matches.

Los Angeles Police Department detectives believe Thomas may be responsible for killing as many as 30 women, which would make him the city's most prolific killer.

"There is absolutely the potential that he is, but it's something we'd have to prove still," LAPD Detective Richard Bengtson said.

Police believe Thomas may have been the attacker dubbed "The Westside Rapist" in the mid-1970s who entered the homes of elderly women who lived alone then raped and choked them until they passed out or died.

Bengtson and his partner are investigating other cases, but he said no other charges were immediately forthcoming against Thomas.

Three of the victims in the latest cases lived in Inglewood, and two were in Los Angeles County.

Nearly all of the killings in the case against Thomas occurred when the death penalty had been abolished.

However, if he is convicted of one killing in 1986, Thomas could be eligible for the death penalty, though prosecutors have not decided if they will pursue that sentence, district attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison.