serial killer person of interest

Detroit Police Chief James Craig hold up a photo of the person of interest in three murders. (Photo: Jeff Gilbert/WWJ)

Police Chief: Suspected Detroit Serial Killer Linked To At Least 5 Cases; 2 Victims Survived

June 10, 2019 - 1:56 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) - Two additional cases have been linked to a suspected serial killer.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he is confident that 34-year old Deangelo Martin is connected to at least five cases: three murders and two other sex assaults, while a sixth possible case with "a very similar M.O." remains under investigation. 

Martin, who was arrested Friday, has so far been charged in a single case: a sexual assault and stabbing in early May. He was arraigned Monday afternoon on four counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of assault with intent to murder for an attack on a 26-year-old woman.

Craig said a fifth victim survived an attack a week ago, in the same house where another victim was found dead. 

"These two victims fought, they survived, and we had an opportunity from putting this information out to meet with them and start an investigation," Craig told reporters at a news conference Monday.

"If we wouldn't have gotten him as quickly, I think he would've struck again," the chief added. "And clearly when you look at the dates -- we're talking about a June 3rd date -- and this was after we put information out, and this is on a survivor. So, what if we had not arrested him? Would their be additional victims going forward?"

The fatal victims include 52-year old Nancy Harrison, whose body was found March 19 in an abandoned house on Coventry near I-75. The body of 53-year old Travesene Ellis, was found in a home on Linnhurst near Schoenherr Rd. on May 24. A third woman in her 50s was found dead June 5 in a vacant home on Mack near Mt. Elliot.

The chief said it's believed that Martin has primarily been targeting sex workers, luring them into abandoned dwellings. 

The only victim not in her 50s, Craig said, is also the only one not believed to have worked as a prostitute. 

Why dwell on the sex work connection? 

"Our suspect, he doesn't have a series of violent crimes in his history...But, again, we focused on the right community, the potential victims from that community, and that was the reason that I believe we were able to get information so quickly," Craig said. 

As the investigation continues, officers are continuing to search vacant east side homes and get those buildings boarded up.   

"We are still very much involved in this investigation," Craig said. "We're hopeful we don't identify any other victims, but we're certainly going to continue to work very hard to see if there are any additional victims out there." 

Martin remains held without bond in the Wayne County Jail, awaiting a probable cause conference set for June 20.