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W. Virginia fears slayings work of serial killer

Jeanie Patton, 31, was one of the three persons fatally shot in the Charleston area this week.
Jeanie Patton, 31, was one of the three persons fatally shot in the Charleston area this week.

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(CNN) -- West Virginia police believe the same person is responsible for three separate fatal shootings this week outside convenience stores in the Charleston area, raising fears it may be the start of a series similar to last year's sniper shootings in the Washington, D.C. area.

Ballistics testing suggested the deadly bullets in each attack had the same characteristics, Kanawha County Sheriff Dave Tucker said Friday.

A day earlier, federal, state and local investigators joined forces to investigate the killings of a man and a woman Thursday night -- separated only by about 10 miles and 60 minutes -- and the shooting death of a man Sunday.

The first victim was using a pay phone at a Go-Mart store on the west side of Charleston on August 10. The woman killed Thursday was pumping gas at a Speedway convenience store on Charleston's southside when she was shot in the head. Thursday's male victim was shot in the head while outside a Go-Mart about 20 miles east of Charleston.

"The bullets had the same characteristics, the same caliber and class," Tucker said. The bullets were small caliber and apparently fired from a rifle, Tucker said. He would not reveal the exact caliber since the information might hurt the investigation, he said.

"It's a matter of time," Tucker said. "We'll get this guy."


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