LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — A man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he kidnapped a 16-year-old Los Angeles girl as she walked home from school, raped her, then doused her with gas and tried to set her on fire.

Robert Ransom Jr. entered pleas last week to nine felony counts.

Meanwhile, CBS2’s Tom Wait reports, the LAPD is investigating whether the rape and abduction case is linked to three murders.

Prosecutors say Ransom forced the 16-year-old girl into a van at knifepoint on March 20, drove her to another location where she was raped and then drove her to an alley where she managed to run away.

That abduction and two others are frighteningly similar, investigators told Wait.

On March 2nd, near the corner of 93rd and South Grand Avenue, a 19-year-old female was found on fire in the street. She had been bound. That victim did not survive.

Three days later, on March 5th, less than four miles away on East 50th street, 28 year old Gisela Yauli and her son, 1, died when a fire erupted inside their South Los Angeles home. Detectives said she had been bound before she was burned.

Then on March 20th, less than three miles from the first murder-the 16 year old was spotted running from her kidnapper-and a witness told police the girl had been bound and she was drenched in a flammable liquid.

“Our detectives are working night and day to try to see if this guy’s responsible for those other two cases,” said LAPD Commander Andrew Smith.

Ransom is being held on a $4.2 million bond.


LAPD Investigating Possible Link Between Teen’s Abduction, Recent Murders

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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