PEORIA, Ill. — A jail inmate has been linked to the deaths of several women whose bodies were dumped along desolate rural roads in Illinois, authorities said Wednesday.
Larry Bright, 38, is expected to be charged today in one of the murders, State's Attorney Kevin Lyons said, with charges to be filed later tying him to as many as seven other deaths. Six women have been found dead since 2001 in neighboring Peoria and Tazewell counties, and four others are missing and feared dead.
"Of the 10 dead and missing women, at least a majority of those 10 have been killed by Larry Bright," Lyons said during a press conference.
Authorities said they received a tip leading them to Bright. They added that a search of his home and property Wednesday turned up remains of at least one body.
Bright has been held at the Tazewell County Jail since December, when he was arrested on unrelated drug and aggravated unlawful restraint charges.
Authorities have said they suspected a single killer was responsible because of similarities in the deaths. All the dead and missing women were black and had "questionable lifestyles," including prostitution or drug use.
The women found dead all had cocaine in their systems and none showed signs of a struggle.
Lyons said Bright will be charged in the murder of 40-year-old Linda Kay Neal, who was found in September along a one-lane gravel road near Hopedale, a small town southeast of Peoria.
Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy said Bright is cooperating with authorities and accompanied investigators during the search of his home and property, which included excavation with a bulldozer.
Lyons said some of the remains found Wednesday had been burned. He said he suspects none of the missing women "remain intact or are even remotely identifiable."
Tazewell County Sheriff Bob Huston said a task force formed last fall to investigate the cases is searching for remains in other remote locations. The probe dates to March 2001, when 40-year-old Wanda Jackson's body was found near tiny Pottstown in central Illinois.
Neal was the fifth victim found. Weeks later a sixth victim, Brenda Erving, 41, was found about 15 miles southwest of Peoria.