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Authorities hunt for possible serial killer in Houston

NBC News logo NBC News 7/17/2018 Tim Stelloh
Image: Jose Gilberto RodriguezJose Gilberto Rodriguez, age 46. © Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC Image: Jose Gilberto RodriguezJose Gilberto Rodriguez, age 46.

Investigators in Texas were searching Monday for a man Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez described as a possible serial killer.

Jose Gilberto Rodriguez, 46, was wanted in connection with three murders over three days in Harris County and Houston beginning Friday, authorities said.

"This individual is to be considered armed and dangerous," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a joint news conference with Gonzalez on Monday. "The sooner we can get him into custody the sooner we can breathe a little easier."

Acevedo described Gilberto Rodriguez as a "person of strong interest" in the killings and two other crimes — a July 9 home invasion committed by an armed suspect and the robbery and shooting of a bus driver on Monday morning.

All three murder victims were killed by gunfire, Acevedo said.

The sheriff's office said in a statement that Pamela Johnson, 62, was found dead inside her home in a northwest section of the county on Friday night after relatives were unable to reach her.

A PT Cruiser stolen from Johnson's home was found on Saturday at a mall in Houston, the sheriff's office said. After reviewing surveillance footage, investigators released images of a suspect identified Monday as Gilberto Rodriguez.

A second woman, Allie Barrow, 28, was found shot to death roughly a half-mile away, in the back of a mattress shop, NBC affiliate KPRC reported.

Barrow, an employee at Mattress Firm, was found by her manager.

A third person, Edward Magana, was found dead at a shopping center on Monday less than two miles away, the station reported. Magana also worked at a mattress store — Mattress One.

Acevedo said Gilberto Rodriguez had been on parole for unspecified crimes when he cut his ankle monitor a few days ago.

The chief added that it wasn't clear if the murders were the work of a serial killer.

"A serial killer is three or more murders — separate homicides — usually without a motive," he told reporters. "This guy's motive appears to be robbery in a lot of cases."

But during the news conference, Gonzalez said the evidence appeared to point in the direction of serial killer.

"That's what we're facing," he said.

Responding to a tweet about a potential modus operandi, Gonzalez said the victims were mixed ages and genders, but connected to three areas in Houston or its suburbs — Cypress, Willowbrook and north Eastex.

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