LOS ANGELES, Nov. 30 -- A man charged with murdering a former Los Angeles Raiders cheerleader is being investigated as a 'possible serial killer,' Sheriff Sherman Block said Thursday. Investigators are trying to determine whether Charles Edgar Rathbun, 38, of Los Angeles is linked to another model's death in Los Angeles, as well as the murder of a college student in Ohio and the disappearance of another woman in Michigan. Rathbun is charged with one count of first-degree murder for the death of model Linda Sobek, 27, of Hermosa Beach. Rathbun, who helped to lead investigators to a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest where he buried Sobek's body, claims he accidentally killed her with his car during a photo shoot. Investigators say preliminary autopsy results do not support Rathbun's explanation. Los Angeles homicide detectives have formed a task force to investigate more than 400 clues about the Sobek case and other unsolved murder cases to which Rathbun, a free-lance photographer, may be linked. 'I'm ready to say (Rathbun is) a possible serial killer or certainly a suspect in more than one such murder,' Block told a news conference. The Los Angeles County sheriff announced Wednesday that Rathbun is also a suspect in the killing of Kimberly Pandelios, 20, another blond model who disappeared in 1992 after leaving for a modeling assignment. Her remains were found a year later in the Angeles National Forest, about 4 miles away from where Sobek's body was discovered. Authorities have determined that Rathbun and Pandelios knew each other, and had several business meetings.
One person reported seeing the two together at a Denny's restaurant -- the same restaurant chain where Sobek is believed to have met Rathbun before she disappeared. Police in Ohio and Michigan also have asked for help from California authorities to determine whether Rathbun is linked to the 1993 disappearance of Rose Larner, 18, of Lansing, Mich., and the 1994 slaying of Ohio State University student Stephanie Hummer, 18. Larner vanished around the same time Rathbun allegedly lived in a mobile home in Dehli Township, about a mile from the missing woman's home. Lansing police said Larner is still listed as a missing person, but is believed to have been the victim of foul play. Larner's mother, Rose Markey, told a Detroit TV station that she disappeared shortly after starting to talk about becoming a model. Police searched basements and ponds, but never found the body. The Los Angeles sheriff said Hummer was also 'disposed of in a similar fashion (to Sobek and Pandelios) in close proximity to where Rathbun's father lives and where Rathbun has visited.' Rathbun's father lives in Worthington, an affluent Columbus suburb, and Rathbun was acquitted of raping an Ohio woman in 1979. Meanwhile, in a story copyrighted Thursday by the Columbus Dispatch, a Columbus model detailed her 16-year personal and professional relationship with Rathbun. Karen Masullo, who said she considered Rathbun one of her best friends, said she and Rathbun met at Ohio State University in 1979 and were lovers for a short time. She posed nude for him on a number of occasions. Masullo, 36, said she spent 30 minutes on the phone this week with detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, describing her relationship with Rathbun. Masullo, who has been married 15 years, said she has talked to Rathbun every few months and saw him during his vists to Columbus -- about three times a year. Masullo said Rathbun often told her he would never live to be 40 years old. 'He's been saying that for 16 years,' she said. 'He said it's something he's known since he was a kid.'