Wilbur Jennings, the man known as the "ditchbank killer" for a series of Fresno County homicides in the 1980s, died Tuesday in a Sacramento jail.
Jennings, 73, a laborer from Selma, was found guilty in 1986 of killing four women in Fresno County and sentenced to death row at San Quentin Prison.
But he was a suspect in at least 10 other homicides, including a 1981 rape and killing of a 17-year-old girl in Sacramento County.
Debra Ann Chandler's body was pulled from a North Highlands ditch the morning after she was last seen leaving a Sacramento apartment.
He had been in custody in Sacramento County since Jan. 24, 2005, awaiting trial in that case, Sacramento County sheriff's Sgt. Lisa Bowman said.
Jennings died at a Sacramento hospital after a long battle with cancer, Bowman said.
Shelly Orio, a spokeswoman with the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, said prosecution of the Chandler case was on hold as attorneys waited for the outcome of an appeal Jennings had in federal court associated with his Fresno County convictions. Evidence from that case was to play a part in the Chandler case, she said.
Jennings had a long, violent criminal career beginning at age 21 and including mostly sex-oriented offenses.
The testimony of some of the women from those cases helped convict him of the "ditchbank" killings -- the deaths of four women between mid-1983 and September 1984. In every case their partly nude bodies were found in or near water in rural locations around Fresno County.
In 2008, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims announced that DNA evidence linked Jennings to another brutal killing. Clarice Reinke, 76, was found strangled in her home on June 23, 1983. Jennings never was tried in that case.
The Sacramento Bee contributed to this report.