James Delano Winkles was scheduled to go on trial soon for the slayings of two Pinellas County women in the early 1980s. Instead, in a surprise move, Winkles pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of murder.
Winkles, 61, was convicted in the 1980 murder of Elizabeth Graham, a 19-year-old dog groomer, and the 1981 murder of Margo Delimon, 39, a Clearwater real estate agent. He abducted and raped both women before killing them, authorities said.
Winkles, who lived in Pinellas Park at the time, will be sentenced Aug. 26.
He has been in prison for the past 20 years, serving a sentence of life plus 90 years for robbing and abducting a woman in the Orlando area in 1982.
In 1998, Winkles contacted Pinellas sheriff's detectives and offered to provide information about the deaths of Graham and Delimon. Winkles claimed to have abducted, raped and killed dozens of women.