The mother of a woman allegedly killed by two parolees who were wearing GPS ankle bracelets said Tuesday that the monitoring system should have prevented her daughter’s slaying.
"California is responsible for them, and evidently their system doesn’t work," Jodi Piere Estepp told NBC4.
But it was that GPS technology, police said, that helped investigators link the two sex offenders to the rapes and killings of Estepp’s daughter, Jarrae Nykkole Estepp, and at least three other women in Orange County.
Federal and state officials said the devices helped pinpoint the locations of suspects Steven Dean Gordon, 45, and Franc Cano, 27, after the crimes.
"Unfortunately, GPS monitoring cannot always deter crimes," a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said 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."
During a court hearing on March 17, Gordon requested that the GPS device be removed. His request was denied.
That court appearance took place four days after the body of 21-year-old Estepp was discovered on a conveyor belt at an Anaheim recycling plant.
The men are also accused of killing Kianna Jackson, 20, Josephine Monique Vargas, 34, and Martha Anaya, 28, who all went missing last fall in Santa Ana and had histories of prostitution.
Gordon and Cano made their first court appearance Tuesday morning. Estepp’s mother was at the courthouse hoping to look her daughter’s accused killers in the face. Instead, it pained her, she said.
"It made me sick to my stomach," she said. "A lot of anger came through."
The men's arraignment was postponed until May 19. Their charges include four felony counts of special circumstances murder and four felony counts of rape.
Newport Beach police are trying to determine if the 2013 death of another woman, Tina Huong, can be connected to the same two suspects. Her body was found face down on the sand. She also had a history of prostitution, investigators said.
Cano's public defender declined to comment Tuesday to the Associated Press. Gordon's attorney did not return a call Tuesday to the AP.
The Associated Press contributed to this report