The mother of the only victim whose body has been recovered so far as part of the quadruple murder case against two alleged serial killers lashed out at Orange County authorities outside court Tuesday.
Jodi Pier-Estepp said if registered sex offenders Franc Cano and Steven Dean Gordon were more closely monitored, her 21-year-old daughter Jarrae Nykkole Estepp might still be alive today.
Outside the hearing where Cano and Gordon, who are being held without bail, had their arraignment postponed to May 19, Pier-Estepp said she felt “sick” seeing her daughter's alleged rapists/killers. She described Jarrae as a “beautiful soul,” “the life of the party,” “very independent” and “a very good mother.”
Her daughter had moved from her hometown of Oklahoma City, where she had lived at least briefly on the streets as a prostitute, to Empire, which is near Modesto in Stanislaus County. She had recently relocated to Anaheim, where she had been seen for a couple weeks carrying a backpack near Ball Road and Beach Boulevard, an area Anaheim Police say is known for prostitution.
Estepp's nude body turned up on a conveyor belt in an Anaheim recycling plant on March 14.
Police have said they know Cano and Gordon had also been near Ball and Beach as well as an area of East First Street in Santa Ana where at least two other presumed murder victims had frequented because of the parolees' GPS trackers.
“It makes me appalled that the state of California had tracking devices on two men … (and) if they were monitored correctly maybe none of this would have happened,'' remarked Pier-Estepp in a City News Service report from outside the Santa Ana courtroom by Paul Anderson.
“There's no excuse, no reason the state can give me why these two men were able to be around each other long enough to commit murder,'' Pier-Esteep continued.
“GPS monitoring cannot always deter crimes,” states the California Department of Corrections (DOC) in a statement. “It is a tool that shows us where a monitored offender has been and it can place them at the scene of a crime. A monitor has no way to detect whether a crime is being committed.
“GPS monitors are not designed to alert us when one sex offender comes into contact with another. … Determined criminals will go to great lengths to commit crimes and we cannot blame our crime-fighting tools for criminals' actions.”
Cano, 27, who was convicted in 2008 of lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 14, was put on parole on Oct. 19, 2009, and had “three returns to parole in 2010 and 2011,” according to the DOC.
Gordon was convicted in Los Angeles County for lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 14 in 1992 and sentenced to three years in prison that September. He was paroled on Dec. 13, 1993, and discharged three years later, according to the DOC.
The 45-year-old was convicted in Riverside County for kidnapping his estranged wife in 2002 and sentenced to 10 years in prison on April 9, 2002. He was released to parole
on Feb. 27, 2010, and discharged from parole on Nov. 9, 2013, the DOC revealed.
Both men cut off their GPS devices before traveling to Las Vegas, where they were apprehended after a couple weeks. Both pleaded guilty last year to failing to register as sex offenders in Nevada and were sentenced to time-served in custody, according to federal court documents.
They were also put on lifetime supervised release–both were on federal probation and Cano was also on state parole–that had them again being tracked with GPS monitors.
Police have said the discovery of Estepp's body was the break investigators needed to determine what happened to the women who'd been missing from Santa Ana since last fall: Kianna Jackson, 20, of Las Vegas; and Josephine Vargas, 34, and Martha Anaya, 28, both of Santa Ana. Their bodies have not yet been found, but investigators say are mounting a search of landfills and other undisclosed areas.
Tracking Cano and Gordon's movements via GPS, coupled with pings from victims' cell phones, helped implicate the two men in crimes that could get them the death penalty.
Pier-Estepp says she's grateful that at least her daughter's death “has brought closure for the other mothers.”
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.