Oregon Slaying Suspect Probed In Local Cases -- Truck Driver Investigated In Rape, Savage Beating Of Seattle Prostitute

A 28-year-old Oregon truck driver charged with murdering two suspected Portland prostitutes is under investigation in connection with several Seattle-area crimes, including the savage beating of a Seattle prostitute last May.

However, Scotty William Cox does not appear to be a potential suspect in the Green River serial killings, authorities say.

Detective Ken Summers of the Newberg, Ore., Police Department said yesterday that Cox has been charged with murdering Rena Brunson, 34, and Victoria Rhone, 32, both believed to have been prostitutes.

Summers said Cox also is a possible suspect in the slaying of Tia Maria Hicks, a 20-year-old Seattle woman who was found dead April 22 in Mountlake Terrace.

Her body was found in a 22-foot cabin cruiser that was stored in a parking lot on 220th Street Southwest between Highway 99 and Interstate 5. Mountlake Terrace police could not be reached last night.

Cox is also a suspect in a rape and assault of a prostitute in Seattle on May 30, according to Vinette Tichi, a spokeswoman for the Seattle Police Department.

The 23-year-old victim of that crime was severely beaten and left in a parking lot in the 2000 block of Fifth Avenue.

Summers - whose department has shared information with King County police - said Cox, now 28, would have been quite young when some of the Green River slayings occurred, starting in 1982. Also, Cox was elsewhere when some of the crimes were committed.

Dave Robinson, spokesman for the King County police, confirmed Summers' statement but said detectives are following the Cox case. The Green River murders - with 41 confirmed victims, most of them found in the Seattle area - comprise the worst unsolved serial-murder case in the country. Many of the victims were prostitutes.

Seattle Police Detective Dan Fordice of the special-assault unit developed information on the suspect, then contacted the Newberg police, Summers said.

Newberg police started an investigation that led to Cox being charged in the murders of the two Portland women, Summers explained.

In Cox's pickup, police found a blue police light that plugs into a cigarette lighter, blood and hair, Summers said.

Summers said Cox is a person of interest in a homicide in Lewis County and for crimes in Cowlitz County.

Besides Oregon and Washington, Cox is of interest to police agencies in several states where similar crimes have occurred, Summers said.

Cox's truck-driving job took him from Canada to California and Mexico and as far east as Ohio, Summers said.

Cox has used different names in the past, Summers said.