updated 12/10/2007 4:00:26 PM ET 2007-12-10T21:00:26

A man with a long history of sex crimes has admitted to killing nine people dating back at least 30 years, authorities said Monday.

Timothy Krajcir, originally from Allentown, Pa., pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree murder in the 1982 strangling of a Southern Illinois University student. Later Monday, authorities in Cape Girardeau announced Krajcir had admitted killing five women in the Mississippi River town in 1977 and 1982.

And Cape Girardeau Police Chief Carl Kinnison said Krajcir admitted to three killings "in other jurisdictions." Police would not elaborate on the other three crimes or say where they occurred.

Deborah Sheppard was a 23-year-old senior at Southern Illinois when her naked body was found in her Carbondale, Ill., apartment on April 8, 1982. The telephone line had been cut.

Three of the killings in Cape Girardeau occurred in 1977. The other two happened in 1982. One of the victims, 21-year-old Sheila Cole, was also a college student. She attended Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau — about 34 miles southwest of Carbondale.

Krajcir, 63, has spent most of his adult life behind bars. He has been imprisoned in Illinois since 1988, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections said.

A Carbondale investigator used DNA evidence to connect Krajcir to the Sheppard killing. Kinnison said DNA evidence also linked Krajcir to the Cape Girardeau killings.

Krajcir at first denied involvement in the Cape Girardeau killings, then admitted to them earlier this month, Kinnison said. For years, the homicides terrorized the town of 37,000 residents about 100 miles south of St. Louis.

Kinnison said the slayings remained unsolved for so long because of their randomness and the cunning of a killer who covered his tracks.

"This is a very smart man who committed these offenses," Kinnison said.

The first victims in Cape Girardeau were Mary Parsh, 58, and her 27-year-old daughter, Brenda. Both were found shot to death inside their home on Aug. 12, 1977. They were face-down on a bed beside each other, with their hands bound behind their back.

A few months later, Cole was kidnapped from a Wal-Mart parking lot on Nov. 16, 1977, and found dead a day later at a rest area near McClure, Ill. She had been shot twice in the head.

In 1982, police suspected the same man killed two women after sneaking into their homes through the bathroom window.

Margie Call, 57, found strangled inside her home on Jan. 27, 1982. Mildred Wallace, 65, found shot to death inside her home on June 21, 1982.

Word of the arrest was welcome news to Henry Gerecke, Cape Girardeau's police chief from 1974 to 1981. Three of the killings happened under his watch.

"That's a burden I felt very heavily — that we weren't doing well over solving them," Gerecke said. "I lost a lot of sleep over that.

"To be frank with you, I'm 86 years old and I didn't think I'd live to see the day they'd be solved."

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