A man serving a life sentence in Colorado for killing a teenage girl has claimed responsibility in 47 other slayings – a 25-year cross-country spree that, if true, would make him one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history, the Los Angeles Times reports. Authorities have confirmed the details in at least seven of the murders Robert Browne, 53, claims to have committed. Yesterday, he admitted the 1987 strangulation of a 15-year-old in Colorado Springs, Co. El Paso County, Co., Sheriff Terry Maketa said Browne’s information could help many people whose loved ones vanished between 1970 and his 1995 arrest. Gary Leon Ridgway – the Seattle area’s Green River killer – was convicted in 48 deaths but claimed to have killed 71 people.
Browne is the son of a Louisiana deputy sheriff. The case was cracked by volunteers in the sheriff’s cold-case squad, including Charlie Hess, a 79-year-old former FBI and CIA officer. Hess engaged in a four-year-long correspondence with Browne, coaxing out details of the killings in exchange for jailhouse favors. The murder that led to Browne’s capture captivated Colorado Springs in 1991, when Heather Dawn Church, 13, was abducted from her bedroom. Her skull was found by a hiker in the mountains two years later. The case baffled authorities until 1995, when a detective ran fingerprints found on a window screen in the Church house through a national database. They matched Browne’s, which were on file because of a burglary conviction in Louisiana.