LENEXA, Kan. - The prime suspect in the deaths of five women whose bodies were found in barrels in the past week was investigated in the disappearances of three women and a baby in the mid-1980s, authorities said Wednesday.
No bodies were found in the previous cases and authorities were never able to prove foul play. Now, investigators are working to find out if any of those women are among the dead.
John Edward Robinson Sr., 56, was being held on $5 million bond on sexual assault charges following complaints from two women. He is considered the prime suspect, but has not been charged, in connection with the discovery of two women's bodies at a Kansas farm he owns and three more in a Missouri storage locker that he rented.
Robinson is being represented by a public defender, who was not available for comment. Robinson's wife is in seclusion at the trailer park where the two lived, and neighbors have declined to comment.
Authorities said he met women through Internet sadomasochism chat rooms, where he used the name ''slavemaster.''
District Attorney Paul Morrison of Johnson County, Kan., said Wednesday that the disappearances of three Overland Park women and the 5-month-old daughter of one of them took place between September 1984 and June 1987. All three had ties to Robinson, Morrison said.
He would not specify the connection.
''These cases were investigated intensively in the 1980s,'' Morrison said. ''Because of facts that I cannot discuss today, the cases were never successfully resolved.''
Cass County, Mo., prosecutor Chris Koster said it is not yet known whether any of the three women are among the five whose bodies were found in 55-gallon barrels at Robinson's farm and the storage locker. He did say no remains of a child were found.
One of the bodies from the farm has been identified as that of Suzette Marie Trouten, 28.