A task force searching for the Baseline Rapist has linked him to a Tempe slaying in which a man is already behind bars.
Police won't say what connects the Sept. 8 killing of Georgia Thompson, 19, to the man police believe has raped seven women and killed six people, but they do say she was the first to be slain in the spree.
James Dewayne Mullins, 33, was arrested in December and charged with second-degree murder in Thompson's death. He has confessed to the crime, and Tempe police say he is responsible.
But Phoenix police said the Baseline Rapist is connected to the crime through "indisputable forensic evidence," which Tempe police say was found at both the Thompson crime scene and the scenes of the Baseline Rapist.
That evidence won't free Mullins, who has a court appearance Aug. 21 in Maricopa County Superior Court, said former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, who is handling the case as a special prosecutor for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
"There's a wide range of possibilities here where this could go," Woods said. "But right now, as far as Mullins is concerned, he's charged with a crime and we'll see where it goes."
A task force of more than 100 officers is on a manhunt for the Baseline Rapist and a second serial killer, who has been shooting people and animals at random since May 24, 2005.
The second killer has shot and killed five people while they walked down streets, waited at bus stops or rode bicycles throughout the Valley.
Phoenix police originally believed the Baseline Rapist's first killing was in December 2005, but when they took a look at Thompson's death about four to six weeks ago, detectives found the link.
Thompson was shot to death in the back of the head in the parking lot of Saddle Club Apartment Homes at 3730 S. Mill Ave. Thompson, a stripper at Skin Cabaret in Scottsdale, was found about 1 a.m. by passers-by. She was not raped or robbed, police said. And for months there was no suspect.
But gossip in a Kentucky jailhouse changed that.
Mullins was overheard talking about a homicide he committed in Tempe, police said.
Detectives flew to Kentucky and interviewed Mullins, who they say admitted to the slaying and was extradited to Arizona.
Woods said Mullins claimed self-defense, even though Thompson was shot in the back of the head.
Mullins' attorney, Robert Corbitt, declined to comment.
Phoenix police said they have not yet interviewed Mullins.
"Everything we have been able to put together at this point we believe shows he murdered her," said Tempe Sgt. Dan Masters. "If facts or circumstances took us down another path we could go down that path, but we haven't reached that juncture."
Neither Tempe nor Phoenix police will say if Mullins could have acted with the Baseline Rapist in the death of Thompson.
Woods said prosecutors and both police departments are on the same page.
"We are evaluating each piece of new evidence thoroughly and fairly," Woods said.
"Everyone is working together to get at the truth and ultimately to arrest and convict the person who is committing these horrible crimes."