Steven Gordon and Franc Cano were best friends – and the only link between four women who suddenly went missing in Orange County.
Both men held a troubled past. Both had been convicted of sex offenses. Both were separated from their families in some part because of their crimes, and both wore GPS anklets so law enforcement officials could keep track of them.
They were convicted child molesters and transients, living out of a vehicle in Anaheim’s industrial neighborhoods. They went by mostly unnoticed, even as police continued to search for three missing women whose only link to each other at the time was their disappearance and their ties to prostitution.
Investigators had not come across anything that suggested they were the victims of murder – until the naked body of a fourth woman was found in the conveyor belt of a recycling plant.
Gordon and Cano were arrested April 11, and my colleague Vik Jolly and I started chasing down leads about two men arrested in the serial killings of the women. Sources said there were possibly more victims.
We broke the story Saturday afternoon, but had yet to unravel the stories behind the two men, and their victims.
Families who searched for months for answers about their missing daughters and sisters were met with devastating news. They sought resolution, but this was the answer they feared.
But 24 hours after the men’s arrest, it was clear there were still several questions left unanswered.
The following Monday, investigators confirmed there was a fifth woman missing, another likely victim of homicide.
But clues as to who Steven Gordon and Franc Cano were, and how police tied them to five missing women, were beginning to emerge.
As the men appeared in court for the first time, police continued their efforts in trying to identify this fifth victim. Little was known about her, police said, but they described her as an African American woman who may have been originally from the Compton area.
Both men were convicted sex offenders and, because of their crimes, parole and probation officials were supposed to have kept a close eye on both men.
The reality was the two men went by unnoticed by authorities for some time. Though they both wore GPS trackers, and even though convicted sex offenders are usually required to keep away from others with similar convictions, the two were known to spend most of their time together.
How the two men came to know each other, and the lives they lead before they came under the eye of homicide detectives, started coming to light.
They were together often, coworkers and friends said. Gordon had a quick temper, and was quick to pick a fight. Cano was constantly with his head down, and even though people around him tried to say hello, he would quickly wave and walk away.
They were easily overlooked, until authorities linked them to the deaths of five women.
They sit now in county jail, in separate cells. Their cases are pending.