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Man Charged in Two Deaths Lost Custody of Infant

January 16, 1992

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) _ A man charged in two of 19 unsolved killings lost custody of his infant daughter last fall after she suffered a near-fatal beating, officials said Wednesday.

William Lester Suff was charged Tuesday in the deaths of two women last year and police said they will investigate possible links with the other slayings.

Suff, who served time in Texas for the 1974 beating death of another child, and his wife lost custody of their daughter after a hospital contacted authorities, said Rialto police Sgt. Jim Arviso.

Officials could not determine who was responsible for the 3-month-old infant’s injuries last year and no charges were filed. After Suff’s arrest in the serial killings, police planned to renew the investigation, Arviso said.

The infant, who ″amazed everybody and pulled through″ despite severe head injuries, remains in a foster home.

Meanwhile Wednesday, officials said they planned a painstaking investigation to determine whether Suff can be linked to any of the other killings of drug users and prostitutes in Riverside County.

Suff, 41, of Colton was charged Tuesday with the deaths of Catherine McDonald, 31, of Riverside, whose body was found last Sept. 13, and Elenor Ojeda Casares, 39, of Riverside, found dead Dec. 23.

The first victim believed to have been killed by a serial slayer was found in October 1986. Casares was the 19th victim. Some of the victims were found naked, stabbed or strangled.

″Now that we have a prime suspect, the investigation is, in a sense, almost starting over again,″ said Riverside sheriff’s Detective Henry Sawicki.

He noted that officials have often said more than one person could be involved in the string of killings.

The Riverside County stock clerk, who some neighbors said represented himself as a police officer, was being held without bail and was scheduled to appear at a Feb. 4 court hearing to enter a plea.

Attorney Floyd Zagorsky, Suff’s public defender, has declined to discuss the case and did not return a phone call Wednesday.

Suff and his then-wife, Teryl Rose Suff, were convicted of beating their 2- month-old daughter to death in Tarrant County, Texas, in 1974. Suff was paroled in 1984 after serving 10 years of a 70-year prison term.

Teryl Suff’s conviction was reversed; the couple apparently divorced.

He reportedly married his current wife, Cheryl, after returning to Southern California from Texas. Another couple was living with the Suffs in Rialto at the time of the child abuse incident, Arviso said.

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