ANAHEIM, Calif. — Two convicted sex offenders dutifully checked in with police every month and wore their GPS trackers around the clock — the rules of parole that are designed to tip off authorities if a freed felon backslides.
Yet for at least two months last fall, authorities claim, Franc Cano and Steven Dean Gordon were raping and killing at least four women — and probably a fifth — in the seedy prostitution hangouts of Orange County.
It was data from their GPS trackers — along with cellphone records from the victims and other evidence — that helped investigators link them to the killings, police said.
"That was one of the investigative tools we used to put the case together," Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada said at a news conference Monday.
Cano, 27, and Gordon, 45, were arrested by investigators on Friday. Each was charged Monday with four felony counts of special circumstances murder and four felony counts of rape.
If convicted, they could face a minimum sentence of life without parole or the death penalty. They were being held without bail and expected to be arraigned Tuesday.
The men had known each other at least since 2012, when they cut off their GPS trackers and, using fake names, fled to Las Vegas, where they stayed at the Circus Circus Hotel & Casino for two weeks before they were rearrested, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada.
While out on parole, police believe the men killed three women in Santa Ana last October and November and an another woman in Anaheim earlier this year. All had histories of prostitution.
Quezada said authorities were confident that there was at least a fifth victim and perhaps more.
Investigators "put a stop to a serial killing that would likely have continued beyond this point," District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.
The department has contacted other places with missing-persons cases across the country.