Two Men Suspected of Being Serial Rapists, Killers

Franc Cano and Steven Dean Gordon are accused of killing four women. Investigators suspect there may be a fifth victim. They're due in court Tuesday.

Franc Cano booking photo. Courtesy of Anaheim Police Department.
Franc Cano booking photo. Courtesy of Anaheim Police Department.

Two registered sex offenders accused of raping and killing four women in Anaheim and Santa Ana were charged today with multiple counts of murder and forcible rape.

The charges against Franc Cano, 27, and Steven Dean Gordon, 45, include special circumstance allegations that could lead to the death penalty. Both men are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Santa Ana, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin.

Investigators suspect there may be a fifth victim.

Cano and Gordon were charged with four counts each of murder and forcible rape. The special circumstance allegations are murder during the commission of a rape, multiple murders and lying in wait.

Cano was convicted in 2008 of lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 14 and Gordon has two convictions for lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 14 in 1992 as well as kidnapping his estranged wife in 2002, Yellin said.

Both men are eligible for the death penalty and at least life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted at trial, Yellin said. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told reporters at a news conference this afternoon that a decision has not been made whether to seek the death penalty.

The men are both registered sex offenders who pleaded guilty last year to failing to register in Nevada and were sentenced to time served in custody, according to federal court documents. They both had their cases sent back to Orange County, and one defendant was on probation and the other was on parole, Yellin said.

The two are friends who were transients, Yellin said. They were living out of their cars and a recreational vehicle, Yellin said.

Police began the murder investigation March 14, when the body of Jarrae Nykkole Estepp, a 21-year-old from Oklahoma, was found by employees of a recycling center in the 1100 block of North Blue Gum Street, according to Anaheim police Lt. Bob Dunn. Estepp had a record of street prostitution and other, minor crimes.

Santa Ana police contacted Anaheim police after Estepp's body was found to share information about three missing women, Anaheim Police Department Chief Raul Quezada said.

Both agencies teamed up with help from federal and county investigators, Quezada said.

"It was a lot of intuition that paid off," Yellin said. "The intuition then compiled with the use of GPS to our advantage" helped lead to the arrests, Yellin said.

Both defendants were wearing GPS monitors and investigators correlated their movements with the cellphone records of the missing women, Yellin said.

All four women had been known to frequent a rough Santa Ana neighborhood known for street prostitution and drug sales, police said.

Kianna Jackson, 20, of Las Vegas was last seen in Santa Ana Oct. 6, 2013, Anaheim police Lt. Bob Dunn said.

Josephine Vargas, 34, was last seen in Santa Ana Oct. 24, 2013 and Martha Anaya, 28, was last seen in Santa Ana Nov. 12, 2013. Vargas and Anaya were Santa Ana residents, Dunn said.

Cano was arrested about 6 p.m. Friday in the 5100 block of East La Palma Avenue and Gordon was arrested about an hour later in the 3100 block of East La Palma Avenue, according to Dunn.

Detectives were asking anyone with information about the four cases, or who believes the suspects may have been in contact with other missing people, to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS (6227) or go to www.occrimestoppers.org.

Tipsters can remain anonymous, Dunn said.

--City News Service

Douglas Martin April 15, 2014 at 11:46 AM
The problem IS our legal system (it is NOT a "justice" system. The death penalty and mandatory extreme sentencing do nothing to deter crime, and they often catch INNOCENT people in their dragnets. If one innocent person is killed by us, then we the people (and there have been hundreds in modern day, tens of thousands if you go back 150 years) then we all have blood on our hands. If one innocent person agrees to a plea bargain to avoid a harsher sentence (thousands EVERY day), then we the people are responsible for ruining lives. Fully 95% of those accused of crimes NEVER get to face their accusers in a court of law; they plead out before trial because they are threatened with ridiculous sentences. Our legal system is a mockery of what it was designed to be. Everyone from the judge to the court clerk to the bailiff to the jailer makes a living off of punishment. And as it gets privatized, we are ALL in serious danger of being locked up, having our property seized, or paying life-changing fines, because justice will be secondary to profit. Those reasons are why these two pieces of shit should not be executed if found guilty. Because, just maybe, they didn't do it.
Joker Joe April 15, 2014 at 12:09 PM
Cruel and unusual punishment is keeping people on death row for 22 yrs. Execute them in one year. Show you have a heart! As for justice. It is a oxymoron. Justice comes from the front of a barrel.
Ron Lane April 15, 2014 at 01:34 PM
Hey Douglas you may want to consider reading the article over.
Disgusted in SJC April 16, 2014 at 05:12 PM
our legal system SUCKS for lack of a better word.... Our problem starts in the juvenile system. Slaps on the hand for serious multiple felonies. It should be mandatory for the scum ball criminals to face their accusers instead of cowering to a plea that is now where near as serious as the offenses that did in fact take place. *** Please note I am bitter and scorned as I have recently had to view the juvenile system up close and personal , my children were innocent victims of a 14 year old monster. 30 some felony charges led to a 2 yr sentence. Is it any wonder we have so many messed up people committing crimes.
monkey lewis April 22, 2014 at 02:55 AM
They were probably horny,they are sex offenders after all


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