By CHRIS KAHN and AMANDA LEE MYERS
Associated Press Writers
PHOENIX- Two medical examiner's reports provide a glimpse into the massive police investigation of killings that have gripped the Phoenix metro area and put community block watch groups on high alert.
Wednesday's report about the killing methods of two suspected serial killers released by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office describe gruesome details of the murders.
The serial predator whom police call the "Baseline Killer" shot his victims in the head, using either medium or large-caliber weapons, according to examinations of victims in five of the six fatal shootings attributed to him.
The city's other serial killer, dubbed the "Serial Shooter," used small-caliber weapons or a small-gauge shotgun in three of five fatal shootings, the reports said. The five slain victims linked to the gunman were hit in the torso, chest or neck.
The two serial predators are suspected of randomly attacking at least 41 people between them. The Serial Shooter is thought to have first killed in May 2005 and has targeted dogs and horses as well as people. The Baseline Killer is believed to have begun killing in September.
According to the autopsies, the victim of at least one shooting linked to the Baseline Killer was attacked from close range.
Another Baseline Killer shooting involved one or more gunmen, according to the medical examiner's office. The autopsy of Tina Marie Washington said a nearby business owner saw "suspects" standing over Washington with a drawn handgun.
Police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said that the Baseline Killer sometimes had a brief exchange with victims just before striking. Hill would not discuss specifics.
Katherine Ramsland, a professor at DeSales University in Pennsylvania who teaches about serial killers, said there could be two reasons the Baseline Killer talks to victims before striking.
"He's probably checking out how vulnerable they seem, whether they're seeming to be on guard, armed with a weapon or alone," Ramsland said. "And he's picking out certain types of people who are satisfying something for him, fitting a particular criteria that fulfills his inner fantasies."
On Wednesday, Phoenix police continued to check thousands of tips in the case. Silent Witness director Paul Penzone said the number of calls have dropped in recent days, with more than a week since the last attack.
The city's Silent Witness hotline received about 1,000 calls per day shortly after Mayor Phil Gordon made a public plea for information last week. The center now gets about 300 to 500 calls per day.
On the Net:
Phoenix Police Department: http://phoenix.gov/POLICE/
Silent Witness: http://www.silentwitness.org/