By JON SARCHE
Associated Press Writer
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado- A Colorado man serving a life sentence on a murder conviction has claimed responsibility for up to 48 slayings throughout the United States, the sheriff's office said Thursday.Robert Charles Browne, 53, told authorities the slayings occurred from 1970 until his arrest in 1995 in the death of 13-year-old girl in Colorado, the sheriff's department said in a news release.
The investigation was first reported on the Web site of The Gazette of Colorado Springs. The newspaper said authorities have linked Browne to 19 of the slayings, in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington and South Korea.
Sheriff Terry Maketa told the newspaper he believes Browne's claims of up to 48 slayings are credible.
An El Paso County Sheriff's Department spokesman told The Associated Press he had no immediate comment. The sheriff scheduled a news conference for later Thursday.
Browne pleaded guilty in May 1995 to kidnapping and murder charges in the 1991 death of Heather Dawn Church, 13, of Black Forest, a small town 12 miles (19 kilometers) north of Colorado Springs. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the 1987 death of Rocio Sperry, a girl who was about 15 at the time, the sheriff's department said. The sheriff's department statement said the charge in Sperry's death came "as a result of communications initiated by Mr. Browne in 2002."
The statement said that since then, Browne has given investigators information on other slayings across the country.
Maketa told The Gazette Browne had served in the Army as a medic.
Charlie Hess, a sheriff's department cold-case investigator, said Browne told him he strangled, shot or stabbed men and women he encountered along roads, in bars or on the street, the newspaper reported.
Browne said he dismembered one victim in a motel room bathtub so he would not be seen carrying the body from the room, then put the parts in a suitcase and dumped it beside a road, Hess said.
Hess said Browne discussed the slayings in sporadic meetings and an exchange of letters he had with Browne over four years.
Hess, who said he is a former FBI and CIA agent, volunteers to help the sheriff's office investigate cold cases. Maketa credited Hess with persuading Browne to talk.