Transient sex offenders charged with rapes, murders of women in OC


Francisco "Franc" Cano, 27, and Steven Dean Gordon, 45, were each charged with four felony counts of special circumstances murder and four felony counts of rape, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Police say Cano and Gordon, both registered sex offenders, allegedly murdered three women who frequented the same area in Santa Ana and mysteriously disappeared last October. Their bodies have not been located. The suspects are also linked to the murder of a woman whose body was found at a trash recycling center in Anaheim in March.

Santa Ana Police say three of the victims disappeared along a half-mile stretch of First Street between Grand Avenue and the 55 Freeway. Kianna Jackson, 20; Josephine Vargas, 34; and Martha Anaya, 28 all disappeared within a month of each other in 2013. Their bodies have not been found.

On March 14, a female's body was found at a trash recycling center on a conveyor belt that sorts trash in the 1000 block of N. Blue Gum Street. She was later identified as 21-year-old Jarrae Nykkole Estepp.

All four women had been known to frequent a rough Santa Ana neighborhood known for street prostitution and drug sales, police said.

Police suspect there is at least one other victim.

Anaheim Chief Raul Quezada said Monday Cano and Gordon were both wearing ankle monitors last fall when the women were killed in Anaheim and Santa Ana.

If convicted, the two men could face a minimum sentence of life without parole, or the death penalty. They were both scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.

Franc Cano was on active parole at the time of his arrest from a 2008 sentence for lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14. Steven Gordon was on federal probation at the time of his arrest. He has prior convictions for lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 and for kidnapping. Cano was arrested on the 5100 block of East La Palma Avenue in Anaheim around 6:05 p.m. Friday. Steven Dean Gordon, 45, was arrested shortly after nearby.

Anaheim Police said both suspects were required to wear GPS tracking bracelets as a requirement of their conviction. The two men were arrested two years ago after cutting off their GPS bracelets and boarding a bus to Las Vegas. They did not register as sex offenders at that time.

The investigation was ongoing. Detectives say there may be more victims in and outside of California. Anyone with information on the case was urged to contact Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.

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