Lexington police identified a suspect on Thursday in three brutal slayings that happened over a span of seven years and the rape of an 83-year-old retired school teacher.
Robert Franklin Smallwood, 32, was already in custody on other charges when the Lexington police department obtained an arrest warrant charging him with three counts of murder, two counts of rape and one charge each of sodomy, robbery and burglary.
Smallwood has been held at a state prison in La Grange since June on drug crimes, according to an inmate database.
Lexington police Lt. James Curless said investigators had classified the case as serial killings.
"It's certainly alarming to have cases linked by the same suspect," Curless said.
Curless provided little information about how - or when - police keyed in on Smallwood, but he said a cold case homicide task force had received more than 400 tips on the case and DNA evidence also played a major role.
Smallwood had several addresses, including at least one in central Lexington, where the three murder victims - Doris Ann Roberts, Sonora Lynn Allen and Erica C. Butler - had addresses.
Butler, 33, was the latest victim, found April 4 at her home. Allen, 29, the mother of six children, was killed and then dumped in northeast Lexington on Aug. 15, 2002. Roberts, 48, was found dead in her apartment on Dec. 22, 1999, by her landlord.
Police have said the murder victims lived "high-risk lifestyles," but didn't elaborate. That statement didn't apply to the rape victim, Viola Greene, a former school teacher who was raped after police say Smallwood broke into her home in 1993, Curless said. Greene has since died of natural causes.
Whitney Collins, DNA casework supervisor for the department, said information on all violent crimes and sex crimes is entered into a database to compare with cold cases. She didn't say when the rape and murders were linked but said the connection was made during "routine casework."
Lexington police chief Anthony Beatty said family members of two of the victims were told of the arrest warrant earlier Thursday. There was no immediate information on when Smallwood might face trial, but Beatty said the department would work with prosecutors to ensure a maximum penalty.