A former security guard has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for the strangling deaths of three women in Bridgeport, crimes that sparked fears of a serial killer on the loose in Connecticut's largest city in the 1990s.

Emanuel Lovell Webb, 42, a former Bridgeport resident, was charged with the killings two years ago after authorities in a cold case investigation linked him to the deaths using DNA evidence.

Webb pleaded no contest last month to murder charges in the stranglings of Sharon Cunningham, 39, Minnie Sutton, 37 and Elizabeth Gandy, 34. Investigators also said DNA tests linked him to the killing of a fourth woman, 29-year-old Sheila Etheridge, but charges in that case were dropped.

Three of the women were mutilated or disfigured, including one who was stabbed in the neck, chest, forehead and stomach, police said. Each of the crimes had a sexual aspect, authorities said.

The victims' families applauded Monday after Bridgeport Superior Court Judge George Thim announced the sentence.

"Justice may have been delayed, but it was never denied," Gandy's daughter, Tequea Gandy, exclaimed as she left the courthouse.

Webb's arrest two years ago came when he was already in jail in Georgia for violating his parole for the death of a young woman there in 1994. Police said Webb worked for a Fairfield security company before moving to Mount Vernon, Ga., in 1993.

Webb told the judge on Monday that he didn't want to cause the victims' families more distress by continuing to maintain his innocence.

"My heart goes out to all of you," he told the families. "There are lots of things I don't agree with."

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Corradino said Webb was a predator.

"He was motivated by his lust for killing," he told the judge. "This case shouts for the maximum sentence."

The victims' relatives agreed.

"I was robbed of a mother, my son was robbed of a grandmother and if he is released from prison no one will be safe from this sick man," Tequea Gandy said.