A jailed 33-year-old man now denies killing a Tempe woman whose Sept. 8 death was linked to the Baseline Killer in recent days, police said Friday.
James Mullins, who is awaiting trial on a charge of second-degree murder, recanted his confession Thursday in the latter part of an interview with Phoenix detectives investigating a spree of murders, rapes and robberies they believe were committed by a person they formerly referred to as the Baseline Rapist.
Tempe police spokesman Sgt. Dan Masters said it is now a “realistic possibility” Mullins didn’t kill Georgia Thompson, 19, who was found shot in the back of the head in the parking lot of the Saddle Club Apartment Homes, 3730 S. Mill Ave., where she lived.
Mullins originally told Tempe detectives he killed her in self-defense after she pulled a gun on him.
“One of our tasks before yesterday was to prove or disprove his confession, and now given what he said (Thursday) we have to prove or disprove his recanting of that confession,” Masters said.
Sgt. Andy Hill, Phoenix police spokesman, declined to discuss Mullins’ interview.
He said forensic evidence ties Thompson to the Baseline Killer and excludes Mullins from the crime spree.
Mullins was to be given a polygraph test on Friday, Masters said.
A task force of more than 100 officers is searching for the Baseline Killer and a second serial killer, known as the Serial Shooter, who has been shooting people and animals at random since May 2005.
The Serial Shooter has shot and killed five people while they walked down streets, waited at bus stops or rode bikes throughout the Valley.
Police believe the Baseline Killer is involved in 21 crimes in Phoenix and Tempe in which 11 women were raped, six people killed and 20 people robbed.
Police believe the Baseline Killer has raped two women at the same time on four occasions.
Hill said on those occasions both of the victims in each case couldn’t get away.
“There’s a very good reason,” he said, without elaborating.
Hill said all six killings are linked by forensic evidence to robberies committed Nov. 7 at 2950 N. 32nd St. in which there were 11 victims.
On that day, the culprit first hit Las Brasas Mexican Grill, went next door to Little Caesars, and then held up two women and two girls, ages 5 and 2, outside the two restaurants, Hill said.
Silent Witness is offering a $100,000 reward.
Anyone with information should call (480) 948-6377.