- Associated Press - Friday, June 20, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - A man suspected of killing two women in Nevada and a man in Tucson before he died in a firefight with police had spent seven years in an Arizona prison for raping an escort service employee.

Anthony Gustave Nelson, 40, is suspected to have carried out the three killings just days after his June 2 release from prison for the 2007 sexual assault conviction. Nelson was killed in a gun battle with police a week ago after leading authorities on a high-speed chase about 85 miles east of Reno.

Years before the killings, Nelson had pleaded guilty in Arizona in the 2007 rape of an 18-year-old woman who worked for an escort agency.

Authorities say the woman refused Nelson’s requests for sex and instead said she was being paid to dance for him. Later, Nelson attacked the woman as she tried to leave, throwing her onto a bed, tearing off her clothing and raping her. He grabbed her by the neck and threatened to kill her if she screamed, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Nelson had a history of “aberrant sexual behavior.” In a handwritten letter to the sentencing judge, Nelson said he was the member of communities that practice consensual alternative sex, fetish and sadomasochism and took part in fundraising for gay charities. He also told authorities that he taught classes in piercing and sexuality.

“Though my involvement in that world began long ago, it was more recently - in the spring of 2005 - that I took a more active role as a visible leader, culminating in my recognition as an international icon within these communities in the fall of 2006,” Nelson wrote.

He said he struggled to repress aspects of his sexuality. He said he sought out prostitutes as a release for his repressed sexual attraction to women. He apologized for causing pain to the 18-year-old woman and said he frightened her into having sex with him, police said.

His whereabouts had been unknown after he was released from prison and reported to a probation office on June 2.

A judge ordered that Nelson be arrested after he failed to show up to another probation appointment two days later. A GPS monitoring device issued to Nelson as a condition of his probation wasn’t working, and attempts to find him at a motel and apartment complex were unsuccessful, according to court records.

He then apparently went to Nevada, where Nelson is suspected in shooting a 68-year-old woman who was attacked when she went to her New Washoe City home to check on a friend who had failed to answer telephone calls. Police believe Nelson shot the 68-year-old woman in the head when she and her husband were at the front door of the friend’s home. The other woman, who was 70 years old, was later found dead inside her home, a victim of multiple stab wounds.

Investigators say Nelson was in possession of property belonging to Quincy Gangwer, 32, who died in a suspected homicide in Tucson. Gangwer’s body was found at his home on Monday after Nevada authorities asked them to do a welfare check. Gangwer was last seen alive on June 9 - four days before the deaths of the two Nevada women.

Tucson police spokesman Sgt. Pete Dugan said Nelson and Gangwer served in the same prison at the same time, but doesn’t know if they knew each other behind bars.

Dugan said there were “obvious signs of trauma indicative of a homicide” and that Gangwer’s body was decomposing and appeared to have been there for a while. “There’s a lot of people to talk to and lots of dots to connect,” Dugan said. “There’s some kind of connection. As far as knowing their relationship, I have no idea.”


Astrid Galvan contributed to this report from Tucson, Arizona.

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