Alleged O.C. Serial Killers Plead Not Guilty in Killings of 4 Women

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Two registered sex offenders accused of raping and killing four women in Orange County pleaded not guilty at a Santa Ana court hearing Monday.


Franc Cano, left, and Steven Dean Gordon appeared via video at their arraignment in Santa Ana on May 19, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

Franc Cano, 27, and Steven Gordon, 45, both transients who wore GPS ankle monitors at the time of their alleged crimes, according to police, appeared via video at Orange County Men’s Jail.

They were arrested in April after authorities linked the naked body of 21-year-old Jerrae Nykkole Estepp, found in March on a conveyor belt at a recycling facility, to the disappearance of three other women.

The two men were charged with four counts of murder and four counts of forcible rape each. Police believe the men had at least one additional victim.

Cano was convicted in 2008 of lewd and lascivious acts on child under 14. Gordon was convicted of the same offense in 1992 and of kidnapping in 2002.

They both face life in prison without parole if convicted, and are eligible for the death penalty, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.


Police believe these women were killed by two convicted sex offenders in Orange County: left to right, Jarrae Nykkole Estepp, 21, of Oklahoma; Martha Anaya, 28, Santa Ana; Kianna Jackson, 20, of Las Vegas; and Josephine Monique Vargas, 34, of Santa Ana. (Credit: Anaheim Police Department)

Together, they allegedly killed Estepp, of Oklahoma; Kianna Jackson, 20, of Las Vegas; Josephine Monique Vargas, 34, of Santa Ana; and Martha Anaya, 28, also of Santa Ana. All four were believed to have worked as prostitutes, according to police.

Family members of the victims appeared at the hearing to face the alleged killers.

“I wanted to see their face … just to know who they were. You know – why, why?” said Priscilla Vargas, mother of Josephine Monique Vargas.

State parole officials were conducting an internal inquiry into how the two men were monitored while on parole, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Cano and Gordon were expected to return to court June 6.

KTLA’s Chip Yost contributed to this article.