The Grand County sheriff said evidence found in a vehicle search that led authorities to believe a prison parolee held in Kansas is linked to four murders in Utah and California suggests he may have targeted two more victims.
Sheriff Jim Nyland said authorities retrieved "documentational" evidence during the search of a vehicle driven by Phillip Jablonski of California that named women murdered in Utah and California in addition to two women currently living in Tennessee and Kentucky.Commander Gary Missel, of the Burlingame City Police Department in San Mateo County, Calif., was also aware of names of women Jablonski allegedly listed in Tennessee and Kentucky.
"We've had calls from all over the United States - law enforcement wanting details on unsolved murders back to the '70s," Missel added.
He said Jablonski was also reported to have had a brush with the law April 25 in Evanston, Wyo., where he was stopped in a traffic incident and found with a loaded weapon in his vehicle.
The officer had the suspect put the gun in the car trunk and let him go, Missel said. That was several days before a warrant was issued for his arrest on the parole violation and suspicion in the California murders.
Nyland and Deputy John McGann, investigating officer, traveled to Kansas last week to interview Jablonski after authorities notified Grand County that the suspect was in possession of a .22-caliber gun and was wanted for questioning in connection with the recent deaths of three women in California.
Nyland said a .22-caliber gun was used in the murder April 27 of Margie S. Rogers at the Rogers Roost convenience store and gas station in Thompson Springs, northeast Grand County.
Jablonski was arrested April 28 in McPherson County. A dispatcher there said Kansas Highway Patrol trooper John Smith had stopped to check on a man who had his car hood up at a rest stop.
The trooper ran a check on the vehicle tag and found that Jablonski was wanted on a warrant from California, said dispatcher Kathy Willard. The officer called for assistance and arrested Jablonski as he traveled south on I-135.
The suspect remained in custody on a parole hold issued April 28 by the California Department of Corrections, said Sgt. John Carlson, of the Riverside County Sheriff's Office in Indio, Calif.
Jablonski waived extradition proceedings last week in McPherson County District Court and, according to Nyland, was to be transported back to California this week.
Carlson said Jablonski faces homicide charges in the April 22 death of Fathyma Vann, 38, of Rancho Mirage.
He is also wanted in connection with the deaths of Carol Spadoni, who married Jablonski in 1982; and his mother-in-law Eve Petersen, 72. Both victims lived together in Burlingame, San Mateo County, Calif.
Commander Gary Missel, of the Burlingame City Police Department, said the bodies were found by officers after a friend became concerned and called police April 26. According to investigators, the women had been shot and stabbed sometime April 23.
Missel said Jablonski refused to talk to two investigators from Burlingame who traveled to Kansas last week, but they have evidence they believe connects him with the homicides.
"The fact the victim (Spadoni) was afraid of Mr. Jablonski; the fact that the wounds on our victims were very similar to the victim in 1978, his common-law wife; the fact there was physical evidence found on his person that had names of the victims; and there's other evidence that the district attorney asked me not to reveal."
Jablonski, 45, most recently of Indio, had been released on parole from the Chino facility in Riverside County in September last year, Missel said.
Jablonski had been convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment in July 1979 for second-degree homicide in the 1978 death of a common-law wife, Linda Ray Kimball, 29, in Palm Springs, Calif. Kimball was reportedly his third wife.
Missel said Jablonski was also simultaneously sentenced to an additional 13 years for assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and assault with intent to commit murder. He was unsure where those felonies occurred.
While in prison, Jablonski tried to strangle his mother, Nette Jablonski, with his shoelaces when she visited him in 1986, Carlson said. "He was paroled four years later."
The sergeant said Jablonski and Vann had been classmates in an auto mechanics course at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif.
Jablonski and Spadoni had met in prison.
"She originally met him when she went to prison with a community service group to visit with the prisoners, singing for them, that sort of thing," Missel said.
Carlson said the three women murdered in California had "unique injuries" but refused to describe them.
Nyland said the injuries were sexually related.
Nyland said he would be preparing a formal report for review by the Grand County attorney in preparation of filing charges in the Rogers case.
He said evidence retrieved in Kansas included blood samples and fingerprints that will be sent to the state crime lab for comparison with samples taken at Thompson Springs.
Rogers, 58, was shot twice in the face about 7:15 a.m. at the store, just off I-70. Nyland said the killer apparently robbed the store of $153 after the shooting.
A gun recovered from Jablonski's car during a search by the forensics team from Riverside County is the same caliber and same "style of bullet" used on Rogers, Nyland said.
The sheriff said he and McGann talked with Jablonski in Kansas, but the suspect refused to answer questions about the Rogers case.
"He never denied anything, but he never admitted anything either," Nyland said.
"He was very quiet, docile; he didn't want to say much. He was calm. He would talk to us about different things other than actual crimes," the sheriff said.
"We talked to him about different things because we wanted to establish this guy is well enough oriented to the world that he wouldn't come back with an insanity plea."
The victim's husband, Lester Rogers, said he has been keeping up with the case through the media. He said he has mixed emotions about the arrest of a suspect.
"I don't want to deal with the trauma and trial, but I'm terribly glad they got him off the road so nobody else suffers the same circumstances," Rogers said.
Rogers, whose family has been in business in Thompson Springs since 1930, said he has peace of mind and is not angry or bitter, or feeling vengeful over the murder.