Male suspect in 1983 murders may be living in L.A. as a woman: police

August 25, 2016 5:35 PM EDT

John Gentry, a male fugitive from two 1983 murders who police think could be living in Los Angeles as a woman, is seen in a 1983 booking photo released by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office in Monroe, Michigan. Monroe County Sheriff's Office/Handout via

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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Police who have renewed the search for a man suspected in two brutal murders in Michigan and Ohio more than 30 years ago have released a sketch of what the suspect could look like today and say he may be living in the Los Angeles area as a woman.

John Kelly Gentry Jr., who would now be 63, has not been seen since the April 1983 killings of a man and a woman who he was having relationships with at the time, according to police.

Now detectives from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office in Michigan say they believe Gentry may be living in Southern California and have issued an age-progressed drawing of him, hoping that members of the public may recognize him.

"The U.S. Marshals Service received information in the last five years that Gentry was possibly living in California as a woman, that dresses as a woman," Monroe County Sheriff's Detective Jeff Smith said.

Citing his "past history," without giving any details, Smith said the information came as no surprise to Gentry's family.

He also said Gentry may be dead since his fingerprints, which are recorded in an FBI database due to a prior criminal record, had not been flagged anywhere since the murders.

"If he's alive he's obviously living somewhat of a law-abiding life, because otherwise the prints should come back a match," Smith said.

Gentry's 25-year-old girlfriend, Barbara Gerber, was found stabbed to death at her home in Summerfield Township, Michigan on April 12, 1983. Gerber's car was stolen and later recovered in Toledo, Ohio.

Six days later, sheriff's detectives searching for Gentry found the body of William Veith in the basement of his Toledo rare coin shop. His car was also stolen and eventually found in South Bend, Indiana.

Smith said that Gentry had also been having a relationship with Veith, who was found bludgeoned to death with an ax handle. Gentry's fingerprints were found at the scene of Gerber's slaying.

A month after the killings, Gentry sent postcards to a friend and to his father from California but has not been heard from since, Smith said.

Gentry served time in the Lucas County Jail in Ohio, where he met Gerber while she was working in the facility's kitchen.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Tom Brown)

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