All six of the victims, discovered since March 2001 in Peoria and Tazewell counties, were black women, all had cocaine in their systems, all were found along little-traveled roads in remote areas, and none of them showed signs of a struggle, according to Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy.
McCoy told the media that all of the women had "questionable lifestyles" -- a history of prostitution or drug abuse -- and all were strangled, asphyxiated, or died of a drug overdose.
"If you take a surface look at everything, it's easy to say 'Absolutely, it's a serial killer,'" McCoy told reporters. "But when we get into it a little bit more, I tend to think there might be more than one person."
McCoy and Sheriff Robert Huston of neighboring Tazewell County both believe their are fewer killers than victims. They are part of a 13-person task force that was formed with state police and City of Peoria police to work on the unsolved murders.
Task force members have searched the vast rural counties on ATVs, horseback and in airplanes and are working their way through almost 600 leads that have poured in since September.
Leads in the case have increased since black church leaders became involved and a $20,000 reward was offered by the city of Peoria and the two county governments.
Task Force Follows LeadsThe first victim, Wanda Jackson, 40, was found in March 2001, but the last two victims were discovered within a month of each other. Linda Neal, 40, was found in September along a one-lane gravel road east of Peoria, and Brenda Erving, 41, was found in early October near a rural road southwest of Peoria.
Sheriff McCoy believes that the string of unsolved murders will eventually be solved and points to some tips the task force have received that included "a couple pieces of information that we think have some substance."
"We have good people working hard," McCoy said. "There's no substitute for good people working hard."
Source: The State Journal-Register