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Tulsa Newspaper Carrier Admits to Killing Two Customers


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A newspaper carrier for the daily Tulsa World, who was arrested last week for assaulting a customer in her home, has reportedly confessed to killing at least two other woman on his delivery route, the paper confirmed Wednesday.

"They were along his routes and we are trying to establish whether they were customers, but I am 98% sure they were," Tulsa World Managing Editor Susan Ellerbach told E&P Wednesday, referring to the dead women.

Ellerbach said Paul Williford, 64, had been a contracted carrier for the paper since November 2003, working two different routes. She said he is one of 650 independent contractors who deliver for the daily.

Police are still investigating how Williford may have committed the murders. But Ellerbach said police had determined Williford gained access to the assault victim's home last week by purposely not delivering her paper so that she would call him to ask for it.

"When she called, he could deliver the paper in person and gain entry," Ellerbach said. When asked if there was any evidence that he may have committed other crimes against his customers, she said, "I don't know, we are looking into it and helping the police."

In a statement, World publisher Robert Lorton III said "we all feel the public's shock and dismay because we're feeling it, too." He added: "We want every family member involved in this tragedy to know that we're doing everything we can to help in this investigation. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with each of them."

Williford is being held at the Tulsa County jail on $1 million bond.

Police charged Williford with assaulting a 75-year-old woman in her home on Friday. But a local television station, KOTV, reported Wednesday that the suspect has since confessed to killing at least two other elderly women.

Tulsa Police identified the victims as Geraldine Lawhorn, 75, and Donna Stauffer, 73.

KOTV reported that Williford had served time in a state prison for felony assault, robbery, and weapons offenses during the past 20 years. Ellerbach said his past was not known because the paper does not conduct background checks on independent contractors.

"I would expect it to change," Ellerbach said about the daily's background-check policy. "We have appointed a task force to look in to the process of hiring contractors." She said there may be difficulties in instituting such a policy for delivery people with ongoing contracts. (The World has no organized labor unions.)

Ellerbach said the paper had received only a handful of phone calls and e-mails from customers about the case since reporting on the confessions this morning, but stressed that "we've got customers who are concerned about their carriers and routes."

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