Pictured; Steven Alexander Hobbs, 40 of Crosby, Texas
- Originally written and published by Chron.com on October 19, 2012
10/30/12 CROSBY, TX — Homicide investigators are re-examining a number of unsolved slayings of prostitutes whose bodies were found in eastern Harris County over the past 10 years as part of an investigation into a Crosby security guard charged with attacking three prostitutes and murdering a fourth, the case prosecutor said.
Steven Alexander Hobbs, 40, was arraigned Wednesday for allegedly kidnapping and shooting Sarah Annette Sanford, 48, whose nude body was found under a pile of brush near Crosby on Oct. 1, 2010. Sanford’s clothing was found near her body, which was concealed beneath some twigs and a log.
Hobbs was charged in her death after a DNA sample investigators obtained from the security guard matched biological evidence found in Sanford’s mouth, on handcuffs used to bind her hands and feet and on a nearby cigarette butt, said Harris County Assistant District Attorney Katherine McDaniel.
The prosecutor confirmed authorities are looking at Hobbs as a suspect in past homicides, noting he worked as a security guard in the area for a number of years and has lived in eastern Harris County for some time. She encouraged other victims or anyone who’s related to a prostitute who was slain to contact the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
“The sheriff’s department has an excellent cold case squad, and they are meticulously going through any cases that match this area and this general manner and means” of death, McDaniel said. “We’re looking at every single one. Generally speaking, there is a number of prostitutes who have been found dead in that area in the last 10 years.”
Hobbs, an imposing man who stands 6 foot 3 and weighs 350 pounds, made his first court appearance Wednesday.
“We plan to contest the capital murder charge and plead not guilty,” said Allen Isbell, one of two Houston attorneys appointed to defend Hobbs. “As I understand it, he comes from a good background and is a college graduate.”
Sheriff’s investigators have for years worked to solve the killings of three women linked to prostitution and drug use whose bodies were found in the area around Crosby. They are among a dozen unsolved slayings in and around Barrett Station.
The body of Aritha Boyce, 37, was found beneath the U.S. 90 bridge over the San Jacinto River in July 2002, the plastic ties used to strangle still around her neck. The other victim, Patricia Pyatt, 38, was last seen walking from her Crosby home. Her remains were found in November 2002, beneath the old Beaumont highway bridge, and she had also been strangled.
The murder case against Hobbs unfolded after the disappearance this summer of Wanda Trombley, 57, a known prostitute whose badly decomposed body was found along a Pasadena street on Sept. 22. Hobbs is considered a person of interest in that case.
Pasadena police detectives began questioning prostitutes in the area, and located three who described separate incidents of being picked up by a large man who attacked them physically or sexually, or both.
“They all were describing this very large white male, with red hair, driving a white van, who was a security guard who was abducting and raping women and then letting them off,” McDaniel said.
Sheriff’s investigators contacted security firms in the area, and obtained consensual DNA samples from employees, including Hobbs, the prosecutor said. The DNA sample linked Hobbs to evidence gathered at Sanford’s crime scene.
Pasadena police detectives arrested Hobbs this month and charged him with the unrelated assaults on two prostitutes, and the kidnapping and sexual assault of a third woman.
Hobbs’ arrest shocked his family, who insist the allegations are out of character to a hard-working, dedicated family man, said defense attorney Stanley Schneider.
“And everything I’ve heard about Steven has just been outstanding – he’s reliable, honest, trustworthy, loved, admired,” Schneider said. “He’s a college graduate, he’s been married for 18 years, with constant and steady employment.”