- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) - An ex-convict was charged Wednesday with killing four women in western Michigan - two this week and his wife and her mother after a prison escape in 1989.

A Muskegon County judge authorized the open murder charges based on the testimony of a police officer who said Leon Means had confessed to the killings.

Means was arrested in the deaths of Anna Lawson, 63, and Judy Bushman, 62. Their bodies were found at their homes Tuesday, just blocks apart, in Muskegon Heights, 40 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

Means confessed to killing them as well as to fatally stabbing his estranged wife, Cynthia Means, 30, and her mother, Linda Herrera, 48, after escaping from a prison in 1989, police Det. Steve White said in court.

“He provided detailed statements as to what occurred in that incident,” White said, referring to the 1989 victims.

Means, 61, appeared in court and was sent back to jail without bond. It wasn’t immediately known if he has a lawyer.

Means was charged years ago in the 1989 deaths but the case was dropped. At the time, he was sentenced to 15 years to 50 years in prison for escaping prison.

“I don’t have any idea what the nature of that was all about,” said county prosecutor D.J. Hilson, who was a teenager in 1989.

“All I can say is that once it was brought to our attention, we wanted (to) make sure that that became part of this particular investigation. … Because of the great efforts here, I felt comfortable in having those charges issued,” Hilson told reporters.

Means has convictions for prison escape, assault, breaking and entering and robbery, according to the Michigan Corrections Department website.

The website said he was “discharged” in July 2012, although it wasn’t clear if that means he was released from prison at that time or released from parole. A message seeking comment from the department was not immediately returned.

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