A homeless man believed to be an alleged serial killer who preyed on women in Detroit, Michigan, and left their bodies face-down in vacant homes has been charged with eight counts of murder in connection with the deaths of four women.
At a press conference Wednesday, Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy announced that Deangelo Martin, 34, of Detroit, has been charged with four counts of first-degree premeditated murder and four counts of first-degree felony murder with criminal sexual conduct in the third degree in connection with the deaths of four Detroit women.
The victims are identified as Annetta Nelson, 47; Nancy Harrison, 52; Trevesene Ellis, 55; and Tamara Jones, 55, all of Detroit.
All four women were found face-down with a used condom lying next to their battered and bloodied bodies in abandoned homes throughout Detroit over a span of several months, she said.
The women, believed to have been sex workers, were killed from February 2018 through March 2019, say authorities.
Investigators believe Martin allegedly lured the women to the buildings before raping and murdering them.
Addressing the women’s families, Worthy said, “We truly care about the person that you loved and the person that you lost. We truly want to make sure we give each investigation the dignity and respect that it deserves. Your loved one did not deserve for this to happen to them.”
Based on the manner in which all of the women’s bodies were positioned when they were found, Worthy said, “I think it’s pretty clear that we think he’s a serial killer.”
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Nelson and Harrison died of blunt force trauma, Worthy said. The medical examiner was unable to rule on the cause and manner of death for Ellis and Jones because their bodies were in such an advanced state of decomposition, Worthy said.
Martin appeared in district court for his arraignment Wednesday afternoon. A plea of not guilty was entered for him, local outlet ClickOnDetroit reports.
Authorities believe Martin may have killed at least two other women and are investigating that possibility, Worthy said. He is already charged with two other alleged sexual assaults. He has not yet entered pleas for the alleged assaults.
The east side of the city was gripped with terror before Martin’s June arrest, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at the press conference.
“This is the kind of case that creates so much fear in our community,” he said.
Asked why it took so long to charge Martin, Worthy said authorities were careful in gathering evidence against him. “We have to be able to go into court and present a case that is going to stick,” Worthy said.
She declined to elaborate further on the cases, saying she wants to preserve that evidence for court.
Martin’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.