CHICAGO -- Jurors listened late Thursday to audio tapes of accused serial killer Andrew Urdiales confessing to California police of killing four women and abducting and attempting to rape a fifth woman between 1986 and 1995.
Urdiales, 37, of the Southeast Side, described the attacks passively, often speaking as if the gun and knife he used were acting on their own. He seemed to express little emotion, except for the first murder, which caused him to pause for long stretches as he spilled its details.
On one tape, the former Marine and Gulf War veteran also referred to himself as "we" and "he," causing police to ask him if he was alone during all of the attacks.
Urdiales sounded surprised to hear police say he used "we," and told them he acted alone.
Defense attorneys are arguing he is insane and lacked the capacity to stop himself or understand that what he did was wrong when he allegedly killed eight women in California and Illinois and allegedly abducted and tried to rape a ninth woman in California.
Urdiales is on trial in Cook County Criminal Court for the 1996 murders of Lori Uylaki, 25, of Hammond, and Lynn Huber, 22, of Chicago. Both women's bodies were found in Wolf Lake, on a sliver of Illinois land between Indiana and the lake.
Prosecutors are also using evidence from the 1996 murder of Cassandra Corum, 22, of Hammond, whose body was found in the Vermilion River near downstate Pontiac.
Urdiales was arrested for the murders of Uylaki, Huber and Corum in April 1997, and subsequently confessed to all nine crimes in both states. He is scheduled to stand trial later this year in Livingston County for Corum's murder, and is expected to face charges in the California cases at a later date.
The defense introduced the California murders into the Cook County case in opening statements. State's attorneys first complained to Associate Judge Edward Fiala Jr. of the tactic, but since have begun using evidence from those crimes against Urdiales.
On Thursday, they called to the stand two California police officers who flew to Chicago in April 1997 to interview Urdiales about the attacks in their state.
Assistant State's Attorney Jim McKay played audio tapes of a 90-minute confession to Sgt. John Booth of the Palm Springs police and a second tape that was interrupted when Fiala sent jurors home at 7:15 p.m.
The second tape contains an interview between Urdiales and the Orange County Sheriff's Police, including investigator Helen Moreno and Lt. Bob Blackburn, who took the stand as the tape was played.
After the first tape was played, Booth testified Urdiales was referring to the murders of Julie McGhee, in Cathedral City, Calif., in 1988, Tammy Erwin in Palm Springs in 1989 and Denise Maney in Palm Springs in 1995.
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In describing McGhee's murder, Urdiales said she was a prostitute and he paid $40 to have sex with her. They had sex in his car and he pulled out his .45-caliber handgun, he said.
"I picked up the .45 and went to the driver's side. I told her to get out," Urdiales said. "The gun was pointed at her and it went off." Afterwards, Urdiales had a few beers at a local bar and went back to his Marine base in Twentynine Palms, Calif., he said.
"I didn't really feel anything," he told Booth. "I was just quiet and peaceful. I got back in the car. I think I drove to the Pink Lady and watched the girls dance." In Maney's murder, committed during a vacation to California after leaving the Marines, Urdiales described driving into the desert and pulling off a secluded road with her.
"The next thing I know I grabbed her by the arm and dragged her out of the car," he said, adding that he pulled out another .45-caliber handgun.
Maney, who was also a prostitute, agreed to take her clothes off, Urdiales said. He forced her to perform oral sex on him, tied her hands behind her back and continued to molest her in two different ways, Urdiales said.
"Then I put a gun in her mouth and the gun went off," he said. "Then she fell." Urdiales said he left, and, as he described returning to the scene, he began using "we" to refer to his actions. At the end of the interview, Booth asked him if he was alone.
"I said 'we'?" Urdiales said.
"Sometimes you did," Booth said.
Under questioning from McKay, Booth said suspects he interviewed in other cases have used "we" to describe their actions and he has used "we" to describe his own actions.
"As a figure of speech, I've said it before: 'We're doing this,' when I mean, 'I'm doing this,' " Booth said under cross-examination. "I don't see it as abnormal." The tapes contained many exchanges referred to by public defenders as evidence of Urdiales' insanity, including long, rambling answers on subjects unrelated to the questions he was asked.
The 1988 murder of Mary Ann Wells in the San Diego area was not mentioned on the first tape or the portion of the second tape played Thursday.
Phil Rockrohr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 933-3248.