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Downtown Hotel Death Probed by Serial Killer Task Force

February 24, 1986

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Police said Sunday that a woman found dead at a downtown hotel was not a victim of a serial killer who has preyed on prostitutes and other women since 1983.

The body was found as neighborhood residents met with police to describe their fear and frustration about the failure to catch the killer.

A 25-member task force on the series of slayings had thought the 29-year- old woman may have been the killer’s 17th victim, but ″determined that the homicide was not connected to their investigation,″ Officer Jerry Wyatt said Sunday. He refused to explain how that conclusion was reached.

The woman was identified as Yolanda Gallagher, who also was known by the surname Garcia, said coroner’s supervising investigator L. Shelton. An autopsy was planned.

Most of the killer’s victims have been prostitutes and black, and 14 of the bodies have been found outdoors in south central Los Angeles, or neighboring Inglewood and Gardena. Los Angeles police detectives and sheriff’s deputies have formed a task force to track down the killer.

About the same time the body was found, police were meeting with 30 people from south central Los Angeles. The residents charged police have been indifferent to the killings because many of the victims were black prostitutes.

″As a community, we don’t intend to turn our backs on these women because they were prostitutes,″ said Margaret Prescod, coordinator of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders. ″These are human beings who are being murdered.″

Earl Holmes, 39, said police weren’t doing their job. ″I don’t feel the weight in this community. Pressure should be put on the police department to do more.″

Lt. John Zorn told the residents the investigative team was formed Jan. 6, more than two years after the first killing, and Deputy Police Chief Jess Brewer said the delay came because the cases had not been linked to a serial killer.

″This case will be solved,″ Zorn said. ″I can’t tell you when and I can’t tell you how. We could sometimes move faster, but we could miss something that would break the chain that would lead to the killer.″

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