A Woonsocket man was charged with murder Friday in the slayings of three women, who had disappeared over the past year, and were linked through drugs and prostitution.

Jeffrey S. Mailhot (search), 33, was the prime suspect in the murders. An automatic not guilty plea was entered in Providence District Court.

Mailhot was arrested more than a week ago on two unrelated assault charges for allegedly choking nearly to death two women in separate instances this year.

Police said those incidents were the break they needed to connect Mailhot with the disappearances.

Police said earlier this week they had found evidence after a six-day search of a nearby landfill that linked Mailhot to the crimes. The state medical examiner's office said Thursday officers recovered human remains at the garbage site.

The dead women had histories of drug abuse or prostitution, according to police and relatives. Woonsocket Police Capt. Luke Gallant has said Mailhot knew the women.