- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2006

PHOENIX (AP) — Fear and paranoia have gripped this sprawling city amid reports that not one, but two serial killers have been striking separately in recent months, killing as many as 11 persons at random on the darkened streets.

“I’m terrified,” said 25-year-old Valerie Alvidrez, who lives alone with her 6-month-old daughter in the central Phoenix area where many of the killings have occurred. “It’s scary. If something happens, I have to defend me and my daughter.”

The killings and woundings of at least 16 other persons evoked the terror of the 2002 Washington-area sniper shootings because of the randomness of the crimes and the fact the victims were struck down while going about their daily routines. Victims have been shot from behind while biking, one while vacuuming a car, another was waiting for a bus.

Six of the killings are being attributed to the “Baseline Killer,” whose name refers to the street where he is thought to have committed his first crimes. Police say the man likely wears a disguise — a wig of dreadlocks topped by a fisherman’s hat — and strikes just after sunset. Five of his victims have been women. Police have not said how all his victims were killed but several were shot.

The second suspected predator, dubbed the “Serial Shooter,” has been definitively linked to the Dec. 29 wounding of one man and authorities think he could be responsible for a total of five shooting deaths. Police say the shooter likely watches victims — mostly pedestrians and bicyclists — and strikes from behind when no one is looking. The shootings usually occur late at night or in the early morning. Sixteen Serial Shooter victims have survived.

Police have created two task forces made up of a total of 120 officers to investigate the crimes and officials have collected $100,000 as a reward for information leading to the arrest of either suspect.

“We know we’re always in a race against the clock,” said police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill. “We don’t want there to be another victim.”

The latest killing was at about 9:30 p.m. on June 29, when 37-year-old Carmen Miranda is thought to have been attacked by the Baseline Killer as she vacuumed her car at a carwash. Detective Dave Barnes said a surveillance video shows what he called a “blitz attack.”

“It appears very calculated,” Detective Barnes said. “It all takes place in a matter of seconds.”

Another Baseline Killer victim, Liliana Sanchez-Cabrera, 20, was fatally shot with 23-year-old George Chou, a co-worker, after they left their jobs at a restaurant the night of March 15. Their bodies were found a mile apart.

Authorities think the Serial Shooter began killing victims in May 2005 with initial homicides attributed to the Baseline Killer coming three months later.

Police are trying to reassure residents that they will be able to stop the killings.

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