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Worthy charges alleged Detroit serial killer with murders of four women

Detroit Police Department

Detroit Police and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy say they have enough evidence to prosecute an alleged serial killer.

Worthy charged Deangelo Martin with the murders of four women in Detroit. They are Annetta Nelson, 57, Nancy Harrison, 52, Trevesene Ellis, 55, and Tamara Jones, 55.

Worthy says the bulk of the evidence against Martin will come out in court. But she says the crime scenes are linked by the fact that all of the victims were found face-down in vacant homes, with used condoms discarded near their bodies.

The Wayne County medical examiner ruled that Nelson and Harrison died from blunt-force trauma. No cause of death could be determined for Ellis or Jones because their bodies were too decomposed by the time they were examined.

Another man was initially charged with the murder of Nelson, whose body was found in February 2018. But Worthy says investigators took their time to make the case against Martin is solid.

“We want to make sure that we’re focusing on the right person, that we’re not charging people that are wrong, we investigate people that may have been in the area, and we’ve been very diligent in doing that. And we are very confident that Mr. Martin is the one responsible for all these cases,” said Worthy.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig took some heat earlier this summer, when police first pieced together that they might be dealing with a serial killer, by identifying some of the victims as possible sex workers. But Craig defended that move on Wednesday.

“It was important for me to reach out to that community, and to let them know that we care about them as well, and we wanted to talk to them. And the response was favorable,” Craig said. “Because there were a lot of rumors circulating in the community. And we wanted to home in on that, and it worked for us.”

Martin faces four counts of first-degree murder four counts of felony murder. He was arraigned in Detroit’s 36th District Court Wednesday, where a magistrate entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

Martin is already in custody and facing charges in two separate sexual assault cases. Worthy says he’s also a person of interest in two other homicides that are still under investigation.

The city of Detroit began a campaign to search and board up vacant homes after police first suspected a serial killer was operating on the city’s east side in June.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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