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Cops: Stepdad Confesses in Killing

May 21, 1998

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A 1 1/2-year-old boy was found dead in a trash bin Thursday, and police said his stepfather _ arrested the day before in a Chicago suburb _ confessed to killing the child, the child’s mother and two other women.

The suspect, 24-year-old Eric Matthews, was found Wednesday in Schiller Park, Ill., with his 4-year-old stepdaughter, who appeared unharmed. He was arrested on kidnapping charges, and at first he told police he had dropped 1 1/2-year-old James off at a New Orleans hospital before heading north.

He later admitted strangling the boy, then confessed to several more killings and a couple of rapes, said Jay Callais, a spokesman for the police department in Hammond, La.

Police believe Matthews’ crime spree began Monday with the killing of his wife, Lashann Matthews, 20, at their home in Hammond, about 45 miles northwest of New Orleans. He then fled with her children, Rosalyn and James.

Little James’ body was found early Thursday in a trash bin behind a church in a New Orleans suburb.

``FBI agents continued to interrogate Eric Matthews. And finally, he broke down and said that he had killed the little boy in a fit of rage,″ Callais said.

Callais said Hammond police will charge Matthews with the murder of his wife of six months. Her body was found Monday in the trailer home the two had shared in Hammond. She had been bound, gagged and beaten.

While being questioned, Matthews also admitted committing two rapes this week in Indiana and Louisiana and killing two of his ex-girlfriends in the early 1990s, Callais said.

Matthews told authorities he killed two of his ex-girlfriends before he moved to the New Orleans area in 1996. Authorities believe those two murders occurred in the Indianapolis and Michigan areas; they were considered unsolved homicides until Wednesday’s confession.

Matthews said he dumped both bodies in trash bins.

``We’re glad we have such a dangerous person in custody,″ Callais said.

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