SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Two convicted sex offenders charged with killing four California women while wearing electronic ankle bracelets fled parole supervision — and the state — together more than once before they were arrested and accused in the recent slayings, according to a law enforcement official close to the investigation.
Steven Dean Gordon, 45, and Franc Cano, 27, were arrested together in Alabama in 2010 after fleeing from parole supervision, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. When they were tracked down, Cano had cut his electronic monitoring device, the official said.
The pair were both arrested and sent back to state prison for five months, according to state parole records obtained Friday by The Associated Press under a public records act request.
Gordon and Cano fled again in 2012, when they both cut their ankle bracelets and took a bus to Las Vegas using assumed names, authorities have said. The duo checked into the Circus Circus Hotel & Casino for two weeks before they were arrested again, authorities said.
An email seeking comment from Cano's public defender, Darren Thompson, was not immediately returned Friday evening. Gordon's public defender, Denise Gragg, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The attorneys who represented Gordon and Cano at the parole board hearing in 2010, Maya Emig and James Sherriff, also did not return calls and emails seeking comment after business hours Friday.
Both men pleaded not guilty this week in OrangeCounty to raping and killing four women.
Luis Patino, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, confirmed late Friday that the two were together when they were arrested in 2010, but did not say where they were arrested.
The GPS devices are not intended to prevent crime among those wearing them and parole agents would have no way of knowing the two were together, he said. The system worked as it should because when they were discovered and arrested, they returned to prison, Patino said.
"There is a certain myth about what GPS monitoring can do. It gives us a track of where that person was at any particular time, but there is no alarm that goes off if one GPS monitor comes within a proximity of the other," he said.
"We have to understand the limitations of the technology that we have."
Parole documents show Cano was charged at his parole board hearing on Nov. 24, 2010, with absconding from supervision for a month, traveling over 50 miles and being arrested with another sex offender.
He was arrested in Alabama. Gordon was charged the same day with absconding from parole supervision and failure to report his address.
Authorities say data from the GPS monitors helped them link the pair to the slaying of a woman whose body was found at an Anaheim trash-sorting plant in March and the disappearance of three women in OrangeCounty last year.
Police are also investigating Cano and Gordon in the possible death of a fifth woman.
While Cano was still being tracked by state parole agents, Gordon was discharged from state parole in November and was being tracked for life by federal probation agents, officials said.