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Man Charged in 13th Kansas City Killing

June 22, 2006

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A former trash company supervisor accused of strangling a dozen women over two decades was charged Thursday in a 13th killing.

Lorenzo J. Gilyard, 55, was already charged with killing 11 prostitutes and another woman between 1977 and 1993. He was arrested in 2004 after the city’s crime lab used a federal grant to begin DNA testing of evidence in its cold-case files.

The new murder charge involves Helga Kruger, a 26-year-old Austrian who was killed in February 1989. She was found dead on a street with a paper towel in her mouth and strangulation marks around her neck.

Prosecutors have called Gilyard Missouri’s most prolific serial killer and say they plan to seek the death penalty.

Gilyard pleaded not guilty to the earlier charges.

The crime lab linked DNA from Kruger to Gilyard in February of this year.

Jackson County prosecutor Michael Sanders would not discuss whether Kruger was a prostitute, but court records show she was convicted of solicitation in 1988 and 1989.

Kruger moved to the Miami area from Innsbruck, Austria, in the mid-1980s and to Kansas City in 1987, Sanders said. Detectives have been unable to contact anybody who knew her.

Gilyard was married and described by some neighbors as mild-mannered and friendly when he was charged with the killings. But the suspect had a long history of scrapes with the law, and police had taken a blood sample from him in 1987.

Calls to Gilyard’s attorney, Burton Haigh, were not immediately returned Thursday.

Sanders said the Kruger slaying would be tried separately to avoid slowing the other 12 cases.

Update hourly