DNA evidence has cleared the Washington-area sniper suspects of any connection with the serial murders of three Baton Rouge women, police said today.
"They are no longer considered suspects in the serial homicides," Cpl. Mary Ann Godawa, a police spokeswoman, said of John Muhammad and his teenage companion, John Lee Malvo.
Godawa said police got DNA samples from the two men and that the samples did not match the DNA left behind in the three murders.
City police had said that they believed a link between the sniper suspects and the serial killings was unlikely, but Muhammad's family had placed Muhammad, 41, and Malvo, 17, in Baton Rouge over the past year. The two sniper suspects are charged in the murder of a local beauty supply store manager.
The three serial killer victims were linked by DNA this summer, setting the city on edge and leading to the creation of a task force that is still trying to solve the crimes.
Gina Wilson Green, 41, was found strangled in her home Sept. 24, 2001. Charlotte Murray Pace, 22, was found stabbed to death in her home May 31. Pam Kinamore, 44, was abducted from her home July 12. Her throat was slit and her body dumped about 30 miles from Baton Rouge.
Muhammad, formerly John Allen Williams, and Malvo are awaiting trial in Virginia on murder charges. They have been accused of shooting 18 people, killing 13 and wounding five in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and the District.
Muhammad and Malvo are charged with first-degree murder in Baton Rouge in the killing of Hong Im Ballenger, 45, who was shot Sept. 23 during a robbery at the beauty products shop she managed.
Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for both suspects. Muhammad and Malvo are scheduled for an arraignment in Baton Rouge in March.