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Autopsy Determines Slain Woman Was Suffocated, Unlike Other Victims

April 15, 1986

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A woman slain in an abandoned apartment building on the city’s south side was suffocated, unlike 15 victims of a serial killer who were either stabbed or strangled, authorities said Monday.

Nevertheless, authorities continued to investigate whether Sharon Annette Rawls, 27, of Los Angeles, was the killer’s latest victim. An autopsy Monday detrmined she died of asphyxiation, said coroner’s spokesman Bill Gold.

Miss Rawls’ body was found early Sunday in an abandoned, graffiti-covered apartment building neighbors. Tissue samples were being examined to determine whether she had been sexually assaulted, Gold said.

Miss Rawls did not have a criminal record or history of prostitution, as did most of the victims of the serial killer, said Lt. John Zorn, head of the South Side Serial Murder Task Force, a multi-law enforcement agency unit investigating the 15 murders.

″She was a black woman who died in South Central Los Angeles in the general area where a number of the other crimes occurred in isolated locations,″ Zorn said. ″But there’s no evidence of stabbing or strangulation that we’ve seen in the other cases. There’s no record of prostitution.″

The task force is searching for the killer of a many as 16 prostitutes since September 1983, most of whom were black. Fifteen of the victims were slain in South-Central Los Angeles and neighboring communities, including Inglewood.

A 16th murder in San Dimas, 25 miles east of Los Angeles, hasn’t been definitely linked to the string of deaths.

The victims were usually stabbed or strangled and their bodies were dumped on streets in isolated areas.

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