“Everything appears to be targeted at the individuals, rather than indiscriminate spraying of gunfire,” said Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley. “The victims were at their work stations… The whole thing took between five and 10 minutes.” Two people were killed in the reception area, three others in the hallway, and the last two in the accounting office. To get to the last two victims McDermott blew open the door of the accounting office by shooting the lock out with a shotgun blast. Police found McDermott sitting silently in the reception area, with his weapons within reach and a tote bag filled with ammo. Police officers wrestled the 6-foot-2, 300-pound suspect to the ground and arrested him without gunfire. Co-workers and neighbors described the former U.S. Navy submarine electrician as quiet, surly, quirky and very private.
In a statement, the company said McDermott’s actions “apparently stem from occurrences in his personal life.” Coakley said McDermott did not have a permit for any of the weapons he was carrying nor did he have a prior criminal record. The victims were identified as Jennifer Bragg-Capobianco; Janice Hagerty, a receptionist; Louis Javelle; Rose Manfredi, 49, an accountant; Paul Marceau; Cheryl Troy, who was the human resources director; and Craig Wood, 29, of Haverhill.
The Internet consulting firm, Edgewater, employs approximately 240 people in Massachusetts, said John Cooley, director of investor relations. The company is in the process of moving its headquarters from Fayetteville, Arkansas, to Wakefield, about 10 miles north of downtown Boston. . The company also has offices in Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota and New Hampshire.
While searching his home police found computer equipment, a will, gun cases and ammunition, several “Dungeon and Dragons” books, a passport, blasting caps, bomb-making literature and three gallons of liquid nitric acid, a substance used in the manufacture nitroglycerin. In his work locker they found a semiautomatic rifle with a sniper scope, computer equipment, and more live ammunition. In his car they found an envelope containing a letter from the IRS with the levy information. Perhaps indicating his mental state leading to the rampage, McDermott quoted on his answering machine a chroniclly depressed android from the “Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy”: “Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and what does it have me doing? Reduced to answering the phones. Phones. Oh, how I hate the phones. They’re so depressing.”
During his arraignment Mcdermott pleaded not guilty to seven counts of murder. His lawyer also noted that he had been under psychiatric care and needed to take medication. His elderly parents attended the court hearing and commented through their lawyer that they were “devastated” by the massacre. According to prosecutors McDermott had been stockpiling weapons and ammunition before his workplace rampage and had practicing firing in the woods near his home. He allegedly brought the ammunition and weapons to his workplace on Christmas night, then returned the next morning and gunned down his co-workers, one of them after she greeted him with “Good morning.”
McDermott’s defense attorney, Kevin Reddington, said, “I just think the indictments speak volumes,” signaling that he may pursue an insanity defense.
Since his arrest investigators said they have gotten about 30 calls from women who said they were approached by Rivera between 1999 and this year. The women, who are mostly young and blond, said the man tried to lure them into his car saying that he was opening a modeling agency and asking them about their sex lives. Using information obtained during his police interview, authorities located the bodies of two of his four alleged victims in a wooden area in the South Carolina border. The two other victims had been located previously. Police said Rivera has been charged with the murders of Melissa Dingess, 17, of Graniteville, South Carolina, who disappeared 15 months ago; Fort Gordon Sergeant Marni Glista, 21, of Augusta, who was raped and strangled last month; Tiffaney Wilson of Jackson, South Carolina, who was killed last December; and an unidentified 18-year-old woman who disappeared during the summer.
A homicide task force in Fayetteville is also checking whether Rivera could be a suspect in 15 unsolved cases in the area. Six cases involve the murder of prostitutes in the Fayetteville/Cumberland County area between 1987 and 1999. Almost all the victims were beaten and strangled to death, police said.
Born in Madrid, Spain, in 1962 Rivera moved with his family to Puerto Rico at the age of 7. His father was a doctor. At 19, Rivera joined the Navy and reported for basic training in Orlando, Florida. That same year, he was sent to San Diego, California and spent the next three years at sea. From December 1986 to March 1991, Rivera worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington. Then he attended the University of South Carolina in Columbia, earning a degree in office administration. On Valentine’s Day 1993, he married Tammy Lisa Bonnette and now have two children ages 5 and 7. While in the Navy, he moved to Pensacola, Florida, and Corpus Christi, Texas, before being discharged in September 1995. In January 1998 he left Texas and settled in Aiken County where he was hired — ironically — as a tire inspector at a Bridgestone/Firestone plant.
On October 18 the Agusta Journal published a handwritten letter from his wife Tammy expressing her faith in God and her grief over the deaths of four young women her husband raped and murdered. Here’s a transcript of the letter:
“We want to express our deepest sympathy for all the victims and their families. We have been praying and continue to pray for the families and all that are involved. God is the only one that is going to get us (through) this. In reading about the victims I prayed to God that the person committing these horrible acts would be apprehended, not knowing it was my own husband. We believe God did not allow him to die in the motel room for at least (two) reasons; one so that the unsolved cases could be solved and two that total justice can be served. We could never adequately express our grief and tremendous sorrow we feel in our hearts toward you that have gone (through) the loss of your precious loved ones. My life is shattered and I just ask that the community have compassion not so much for me but for my two small children who are victims also. We have asked God over and over Why? How could this have happened? We just do not have the answers and probably never will. Our family, church, close friends, and even people from the community that we have never met (have) been a comforting support, but above all God (has been). We have been cooperating fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. To the families again our deepest sympathy.”On November 3 Rivera entered not guilty pleas to a capital murder charge and 13 other charges including rape, aggravated assault and aggravated sodomy. Rivera stood completely still in Richmond County Superior Court as Judge Albert M. Pickett read through each of the 14 charges lodged against him, including a murder charge for the September 9 death of Marni Glista. The arraignment and initial hearing in Richmond County Superior Court were the first of the specialized pretrial hearings that must be held in every case in which prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty.
Johnson admitted to killing Sullivan, Rhonda Tucker, Joanne Feliciano, Vivian Caraballo and Laura Nusser. Johnson still hasn’t admitting killing Katrina Niles, the sixth woman whom cops believe was part of Johnson’s alleged year-long strangulation spree. To date he has been charged with five murders and could face the death penalty.
All six victims had arrest records for prostitution or drug-related offenses and all were found nude or partly clothed. In all of the cases, the women were strangled, apparently with whatever the killer found at hand: two with their own sneaker laces, one with the drawstring from a pair of sweatpants, two with electrical chord and one with a piece of cloth. The first three victims may have had sex with the same man shortly before their deaths. Two where found on rooftops. Three of the victims — Caballero, Feliciano and Sullivan — were killed on a Thursday, and a fourth — Rhonda Tucker — was found in dead her apartment on a Saturday, but was last seen on a Thursday.
The 5-foot, 3-inch, 130-pound suspect told investigators that Nusser was his first victim, killing her after they had sex in Williamsburg last August. He then wrote out a short apology to Nusser’s husband and daughter and pleaded for help. “I’m sorry I did it,” he wrote. “I hope this brings closure. I need help.”
Cops had initially thought Caraballo, killed August 26, 1999, was the strangler’s first victim. DNA from her corpse, as well as DNA from Tucker and Feliciano, matched a DNA sample obtained from Johnson’s spit. Police obtained a DNA sample from Johnson after he left the police station and was seen from a window by an interrogating officer spitting in a cup. The officer ran out of the police station and recovered the cup for genetic testing.
Johnson was originally fingered by another homeless man who was suspected of being the killer. The man was cleared because his DNA did not match, but he identified Johnson as a possible suspect and called officers when he saw him crossing the Williamsburg bridge.
“I can say one thing: The bodies (in the field) appear to have been in those barrels for some time,” said Paul Morrison, the district attorney in Johnson County, Kansas. “The bodies in Raymore have probably been there longer.” Allegedly Robinson had rented the locker for at least five years. In Kansas, about 20 investigators — including some from the FBI — continued to search Robinson’s property. Crews planned to drain a pond on the land. “We may find more bodies, but we certainly hope not,” Linn County Sheriff Marvin Stites said.
John Edward Robinson Sr. was remarkable a child growing up near Chicago. There, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and once traveled to England to sing for the queen and make a backstage friendship with Judy Garland.
As an adult, he seemed to live two lives simultaneously – one all upstanding and middle class, another with a history of reported scams. He has posed as a divorce lawyer and movie producer, claiming to be making ‘First Blood,’ the first of Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo movies. After moving to Kansas City in the 1960s, he lived as a family man, scout leader, church elder, Little League referee, and coach. He was also a man convicted for a series of frauds and once forged letters from businessmen to stage a luncheon in his own honor.
It was after he met two women over the Internet through sado-masochistic circles. The still-married Robinson met the women on separate occasions for sexual encounters in hotel rooms. But they complained to police that he played too rough. One of them, a therapist from Texas, also accused him of walking off with hundreds of dollars of her sex toys.
Police arrested him at his home in Olathe, Kan., after the two complaints of sexual assault. That, in turn, gave them an opening to search his farm, and the first two bodies were discovered. By the week’s end, they found the three others, and he was charged with five counts of murder.
Most of the victims are believed related to Robinson’s financial scams and alleged Internet activities. Online Robinson went by the screen moniker of “Slavemaster” trolling through different sadomasochistic chat rooms searching for victims. Robinson was arrested at mobile home park managed by his wife in Olathe, Kansas. One of the women he assaulted apparently travelled from Texas to have little S&M session with the suspect in a local hotel. Like the other surviving victim, things got rougher than intended and, unlike at least five others, she was able to escape alive. Presently he is being held on $5 million bond on charges of aggravated sexual battery and the felony theft of the woman’s bondage gear.
One fo Robinson’s victims is believed to be Lisa Stassi and her baby daughter, Tiffany. Lisa and Tiffany — who was barely five months old — were in a shelter for battered women when she met Robinson in 1985. Robinson allegedly recruited her for his fraudulent “Outreach” program for young single mothers, pledging to train her in Texas as a silkscreen printer, land her an $800-a-month stipend, set her up with baby-sitting and give her an apartment. On January 8, 1985, she and her baby were at an Overland Park Rodeway Inn, where a “John Osborne” had checked her in. Her room was paid for with a credit card issued to Equi-II, a consulting company set up by Robinson. She checked out two days later, and her family has not heard from her since.
Authorities have now located her daughter, Tiffany, alive and living under the name Heather Robinson with Robinson’s older brother in Hammond, Indiana. Robinson arranged the fake adoption of Tiffany — now a sophomore in a public high school — soon after she and her mother dissappeared. Unaware that the adoption was not legal or that the girl’s mother was presumably killed by Robinson, his brother raised the little girl in a seemingly normal fashion. According to authorities the brother never suspected any foulplay and had been given fake legal documents concerning the adoption.
“That bothers me more than I can tell you,” said Pat Sylvester, Lisa Stasi’s mother. “To know that he handed her over to his own brother, that he was around her all those years, it’s just so awful.” The 16-year-old is said to be shaken by the news. That comes from the lawyer representing the couple raising her. The family has not spoken publicly.
Carl Stasi, her biological father, thinks it best that the girl stay a daughter to the brother of the man who may have killed her mother. “I don’t want to make this any harder for her than it already is,” Stasi said. He last saw his then-wife and daughter around Christmas 1984 before leaving the Kansas City area to reenlist in the Navy. He was 24 at the time. Yet he’s frustrated that the couple has stalled for several months any meeting with his daughter. “For now, I’d settle for a phone call or a letter,” he said. “I want to tell her I love her.”
Alexander allegedly shot the three inspectors inside the Santos Linguisa Factory while a fourth inspector waited outside for police. Authorities say Alexander chased the fourth inspector for more than two blocks, firing until he ran out of bullets. The state inspector escaped injury. Then, Alexander returned to the factory, reloaded, and fired more bullets into the inspectors’ bodies. When a bicycle cop arrived at the scene, Alexander put his gun on the floor, locked the factory, and surrendered to the officer.
Alexander, who ran for mayor of San Leandro in 1998, was arrested in 1996 on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and other charges for allegedly attacking his 75-year-old neighbor after they argued over garbage on Alexander’s property. The charges were dropped after Alexander paid his neighbor $10,000.
Yemeni police reported they discovered the remains of 15 women around the medical faculty of Sanaa University. Nine of the corpses were skeletons, six headless corpses. Two additional heads were found that did not match any of the bodies. Some of the remains were found buried and others were in the university’s sewage system. In custody, Omar said he regretted his murder spree but said he had been unable to resist the urge to kill beautiful women. “I regret what I did and executing me will purify me from my sins,” he said in an interview. “Sometimes I used to hate what I did, but when I saw women, especially beautiful ones, something happened inside me that I could not resist at all.” As a child he allegedly enjoyed killing and skinning rabbits. By the time he was 22 he graduated to killing women.
In court, Omar was all smiles as he recanted his previous confession of committing 16 and claimed to have only killed two women, the Iraqi student whose mother’s insistence led to his arrest, and a Yemeni student. Omar allegedly charged the Iraqi student a fee of US$ 2500 in exchange for high grades in anatomy. When she failed to comply, Omar lured her into a small room in the morgue and killed her. Her mother, Karimah Mutlak, said she would like to kill Omar with her own hands and dismember him the way he dismembered her daughter: “My only dream now is to see the body of Mohammad Adam chopped into pieces as he did to all these girls,” she said in an interview with the English-language Gulf News. “I would do it myself, with my own hands, in a public place in the middle of Sanaa if they would let me.”
Police added that Omar may have been involved in the smuggling of body parts abroad for scientific purposes and they are looking for least three accomplices in the trade of bodyparts to other Arab countries for medical experiments. When he was arrested police said that Adam “tried to commit suicide by slicing open his wrists with glass from his spectacles.” Yemen’s parliament decided to form a commission to investigate the killings, a parliamentary source said, and the cabinet also discussed the murders, “insisting on the need to conclude quickly the police enquiry to explain the circumstances of the crimes.”
Students at Sanaa University, outraged over revelations of Mohammad Adam Omar’s bloodlust, said they will sue university officials for neglect over the murderous rampage of the university morgue worker. “The student union has decided to file a criminal suit against university administrators and security guards… for failing to carry out their duties,” a statement said. Since the revelations of Omar’s unchecked criminality, student protesters have taken to the streets demanding the firing of senior university officials and university security officers. The student union said it would call off the protests while their case is in court, but warned: “if we detect any attempt to undermine the case or be lenient with any of those involved we will strengthen our protests and broaden them to include all the universities in Yemen.” The students marched to the office of President Ali Abdullah Saleh where they presented a list of demands including that the trial of the Omar be televised and “that he be executed and crucified outside the university’s faculty of medicine.”
On November 20 Omar was convicted of killing two women and sentenced to death. The court ordered that the former morgue worker be executed by firing squad in the main square of the medical school. The court also ordered Omar to pay each of the victims’ families 5 million riyals ($41,600) and ordered that two lecture halls in the school be named after the two victims – Noor Aziz and Hoson al-Hamdani.
On August 22, 2001, Omar was executed in a lot outside the city in front of a crowd of 30,000 people. The Sudanese morgue attendant confessed to 16 murders but was convicted of only two. Many believe that Omar may have been the scapegoat in a wider sex-and-murder scandal, possibly involving dozens of murders and powerful figures. The most widespread theory among those who doubted the prosecution’s case against Omar was that the medical school morgue may have been used to dispose of the bodies of young women who died in exclusive brothels in Sana. On the other hand, prosecutors and senior officials at the medical school vigorously denied there was any conspiracy in the trial or its outcome. “The general belief among the public is there are partners and motivations for committing these crimes, and those partners may amazingly be among the highest classes of the society,” declared The Yemen Times, an English-language newspaper published in the Yemeni capital.
According to Yemenis who witnessed the execution, Omar was forced to kneel, then pushed face down onto the bare ground. He was lashed 80 times across his back with a whip of knotted leather. The additional punishment was ordered after Omar admitted at his trial to having drunk alcohol, a serious offense under the Islamic legal code enforced in Yemeni courts. After the lashes, a police officer braced himself with his legs either side of the condemned man, and fired three rounds from a Kalashnikov assault rifle aimed vertically at his upper back. As Omar continued to move, the officer fired at his head. His body was then taken to a secret burial place.
Originally, the prosecution presented a confession by Omar saying he had killed 51 women during throughout a 20-year period around the Arab world. As inconsistencies came to light, the state shifted their charges to saying there had been only 16 victims, all in Yemen, whose remains were found in the morgue sewers. Finally, that version, too, was scratched, and Omar was charged at the trial with the murder of only two women.
Police first responded to a small fire at the home of Anita Gordon in Mount Lebanon, next door to the home of Bauhammers’ parents. Gordon, 63, was found dead inside the home. She had been shot several times. Baumhammers allegedly set a small fire at the house after killingGordon whom he had known since childhood. Next Baumhammers shot at the Beth El Congregation synagogue and painted the word “Jew” on the front and swastikas on the outside walls.
Then he stoppoed at an Indian grocery store in Carnegie where he killed Anil Thakur, 31, and critically wounded Sandip Patel, 25. The Pittsburg Post-Gazette said he was shot in the neck and was facing the possibility of permanent paralysis. Kent Kretzler, a witnes who owns a travel agency next to the Indian grocery, said Baumhammers appeared calm as he walked out of the store, tucked away a gun and got into his car. “He sat for maybe five or 10 seconds without doing anything, and just very calm and collectedly pulled out as if pulling out after buying a bag of groceries,” Kretzler said.
Then he did another drive-by on a synagogue in Carnegie before stopping at the Ya Fei Chinese Cuisine restaurant and killing Thao Pham, 30, a deliveryman of Vietnamese descent, and Ji-Ye Sun, 34, the Chinese manager of the restaurant. About 15 minutes he stopped at a karate school in a shopping plaza where he shot to death 22-year-old Gary Lee.
On May 18 Baumhammers was deemed incompetent to stand trial and ordered transferred to Mayview State Hospital for treatment. Judge Lawrence O’Toole said Baumhammers was incompetent to aid in his own defense on homicide charges and could be tried later if his mental state improves. Baumhammers, a 34 former immigrant lawyer, is accused of fatally shooting five people and wounding a sixth in Allegheny and Beaver counties April 28. His victims were Jewish, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese and black. The son of Latvian refugees Baumhammers ran a Web site that touted the rights of immigrants from Europe over those from the third world. One of the psychiatrists who interviewed him testified that Baumhammers had an “eerie” emotional detachment and was paranoid, believing he had been poisoned during trips to Europe. He and two other psychiatrists testified that Baumhammers was unfit for a trial.
On September 6, 2001, Pittsburg judge formally sentenced Baumhammers to death for fatally shooting five people. Judge Jeffrey Manning blamed the racially-motivated rampage in part on Internet hate sites and lax enforcement of firearms laws. “They and their families will forever suffer needlessly and senselessly because you decided that their only misdeed was that they were different from you,” Manning said.
Baumhammers was sentenced additionally to at least 112 years in prison for 20 other charges, including ethnic intimidation. Defense attorneys — claiming that executing Baumhammers was like “lynching of the town fool” — argued that his client was psychotic and that his fixation on minorities resulted from delusions that he was being followed, shot with lasers and otherwise persecuted by often nameless, faceless entities.
McGray, a 34-year-old Nova Scotia-born drifter who has claimed responsibility for 16 slayings across North America, just pleaded guilty on to the 1987 stabbing death of Mark Gibbons of Saint John, N.B. He received a life sentence, which will run concurrent to the life sentences he’s already serving for the first-degree murders of a woman in Moncton, N.B., in 1998, and two men in Montreal in 1991.
Like his fellow Canadian killer Clifford Olson, Michael Wayne McGray said he’ll prove he committed sixteen murders if he is granted certain demands. Though, swearing that they would not be played like in the Olson fiasco, Halifax authorities said “No deal” to the request. McGray, serving a life sentence in Renous, N.B., for the 1998 first-degree murder of a Newfoundland woman, said he wants three things before he tells police how he killed at least 16 people. McGray said he doesn’t want any of his accomplices charged, he doesn’t want to be charged for the alleged crimes, and he wants psychiatric treatment for “demons” he says sent him on a 15-year coast-to-coast killing spree. Given the chance, the suspected serial killer added, he would murder a guard, a prisoner or anyone else who could quench what he describes as a searing hunger to kill.
McGray’s claims of killings in Halifax, Saint John, N.B., Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Seattle have caused police to sift through their unsolved homicide files looking for links. So far, there have not uncovered any evidence that confirms his deadly allegations. McGray claims to have killed a prostitute and a gay man in Seattle sometime in 1995-96 and three gay men in Montreal. The homicidal drifter added that he could lead Toronto police to the body of a 50-year-old alcoholic he buried in a west-end park.
Like many other serial killers his alcoholic father beat him regularly. Within years he was being shunted from one group home and reform school to the next, eventually landing at a school for boys in Shelburne, N.S., where he says he was sexually and physically abused. “I used to kill animals and get in fights all the time at school,” McGray said, “It was like a hunger.”
On March 21 McGray confessed to 11 slayings while he was being transported from one prison to another. The prisoner mentioned the other killings after he was charged in the death of a woman who he allegedly killed in her Moncton apartment two years ago. “I believe it happened in conversations with a police officer transporting him from the federal penitentiary in Renous to Moncton,” said McGray’s Moncton lawyer, Wendell Maxwell.
The new 11 cases he has claimed responsability for don’t include the Moncton killing, or four other deaths he has been charged with. McGray, who is 35, is also charged with the 1991 deaths of two gay men in Montreal and the 1987 fatal stabbing of Mark Daniel Gibbons, a cab driver. In court McGray pleaded guilty to slicing the throat of Joan Hicks in Moncton and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
The 31-year-old rampager is believed to have gone on a two-day blood binge in which he abducted Tracy Whitehead from the home of her friends, George and Gloria Shenk. “Tracy, get up, you’re going,” Palczynski allegedly told her before he shot and killed the Shenks in front of their 3-year-old granddaughter and 12-year-old son. The Shenks were sheltering Tracy after she moved from Palczynski’s home. As he dragged Whitehead to his mother’s van he killed David Meyers, a 42-year-old neighbor who went out when he heard a woman screaming for help. The next day he killed a woman and wounded another and a 2-year-old boy during an attempted carjacking. The boy, shot in the cheek, is in stable condition. Later he forced his way into an elderly woman’s house, handcuffed her to the bed post and stole her car. That night Palczynski took Whitehead to a motel in Rosedale from where she managed to escaped. Police later stormed the motel and confiscated an AR-15 assault rife and a pistol-grip shotgun he left behind.
Not a stranger to the law Palczynski has an extensive criminal record dating to 1988 including several assault convictions and time in both prison and a psychiatric facility. In 1997 he wrote to a Baltimore County circuit judge, saying he had a history of depression, was sexually abused as a child and had attempted suicide. Police said he escaped from a mental institution in 1993 and ran to Idaho where police needed to use tear gas to end a 13-hour stand-off. Presently he is at large, armed and dangerous.
The Vancouver Sun quoted unidentified sources saying that Niedermier is also being questioned by police in Edmonton and Calgary about their own missing prostitute cases. In Calgary, police have been investigating the disappearance of a number of prostitutes in the late 1970s and 1980s. Constable Anne Drennans of the Vancouver police said Niedermier, who was living in Vancouver in 1995-97, is well known to both Vancouver and Lethbridge police.
“It was as part of the investigation into the missing women that information about Niedermier was received,” said Drennan. “There has been no link identified with the missing prostitutes, but we would call him a person of interest and we will be wanting to speak to him at length about the missing women’s file.” Niedermier was sentenced in 1990 to 14 months in prison for pimping a 14-year-old girl who he brought from Calgary to Vancouver.
Like in many serial killer cases friends and neighbors were in shock with the suspect’s newfound infamy. “Bob Yates, he was a great guy. He really was,” said Gary Berner, an Oak Harbor dentist who’s been his friend since high school. Neigbors said he frequently played catch on his front lawn with his 11-year-old son. He also enjoyed washing and tinkering with his cherished white 1977 Corvette, which ultimately led to his arrest.
The affadavit of Joseph’s murder states that the youngster was last seen in Spokane’s East Sprague neighborhood getting into a white Corvette driven by a white man between 30 and 40 years-old. Five weeks after her dissapearence Yates was stopped in his Corvette near East Sprague. A year later, after he had sold the Corvette, Yates was stopped in another car after picking up a prostitute. At the time he said he was just giving the woman a ride. In September 1999 that same woman told detectives Yates had agreed to pay her $20 for a sex act the night they were stopped. Acting on the evidence they had collected two task force officers interviewed him. At the time, according to sheriff’s Captain John Simmons, “He was just one of many, many names that had apparent potential.” After the interview both detectives remarked they thought he sweated a little too much.
In January 2000 police tracked down the new owners of the Corvette and obtained permission to search the car. In it they found a mother-of-pearl cuff button missing from Joseph’s jacket as well as carpet fibers matching those found on her shoes and blood stain on the seat-belt buckle matching her parent’s DNA. “The white ‘Vette was really the link to Mr. Yates,” sheriff Sterk said.
He told police his wife is pregnant with their second child and that they were having marital problems. After he listened to Armstrong confess to various murders, Hines said he called Armstrong’s wife to let her know he was in police custody and was facing criminal charges. The detective said he hung up on Katie Armstrong after a minute-long conversation. He said he had warned her that he wouldn’t continue the conversation if she kept yelling at him. Not one to take bad news lightly, Katie then accused police of harassing her husband. “She’s in extreme denial,” said Hines. “Apparently she didn’t want to hear what I had to say. She was a very loud and rambunctious woman.”
Detroit police believe Armstrong’s alleged killing spree may have begun eight years ago in North Carolina, when he joined the Navy in Raleigh. Detroit police and the FBI are trying to match a list of Nimitz port visits between 1992 and April 1999, when Armstrong was discharged from the military, with a list of unsolved killings in cities across the world. “As the investigation keeps going on, bodies keep popping up. The numbers keep increasing,” Officer Octaveious Miles told the AP. “There is a similar pattern that ties them all together that creates a trail.”
In custody the 300-pound former sailor dropped a bomb on the laps of interrogating officers by confessed to killing up to 18 women throughout the world over an eight-year period. In his confession he claimed to have committed three murders in Seattle, two in Hong Kong, two in Hawaii, and one each in Virginia, North Carolina, Thailand and Signapore. Investigators said they were also looking into similar prostitute strangulations in Japan, Korea and Israel that coincided with Nimitz port visits. “This is not going to be solved, this won’t be completed, in the next week. Literally we will be months dealing with other governments and police officers around the world,” said FBI Special Agent John Bell.
Navy officials said that Armstrong was not the model sailor, but he was not a discipline problem either. During his eight years in the service, Armstrong received the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal; two good conduct medals; the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon; the Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon; the National Defense Service Medal; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; and two Sea Service Deployment ribbons.
Police said Armstrong was questioned following the January death of a prostitute in Dearborn Heights after he told police he found her body in a stream. But investigators said they did not have enough evidence to arrest him at the time. Then a prostitute called Detroit police to report she had been assaulted and gave a description of the suspect and his vehicle. Two days later a Conrail worker spotted a body near the tracks. Investigators found two other women’s bodies nearby. All three women were prostitutes killed at different times, then dumped in same area. Police theorize they were strangled in the suspect’s car. The first body had been dumped four weeks ago, the second three weeks ago, and the third two days before the Armstrong’s arrest.
Investigators now believe that Armstrong’s worldwide crime spree is a figment of his imagination. Only the five murders in Detroit have been confirmed. One other killing, that of Linette Hillig, 34-year-old woman was found in Norfolk on March 5, 1998, concurs with Amstrong’s confession. However, Norfolk police have not identified Armstrong as a suspect. In other cities, police say they the veracity of his confessions. From Singapore to Hawaii to Washington, investigators have said they either have no unsolved murder or no case that fits what Detroit police attributed to Armstrong.
In all he was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder, 11 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault and one count of attempted murder. With Crawford’s arrest the Chicago Police Department solved 11 of the 13 murders originally under investigation with three of the four DNA-Patterned-suspects under arrest.
Prosecutors said Crawford’s videotaped confession took three days. In it he said he killed the women he lured from the streets into abandoned buildings to exchange drugs for sex. “When women would resist having the sexual favors before the delivery of the cocaine, he would then strangle them,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Thomas Epach. In at least one case, the prosecutor added, Crawford had sex with a victim after she was murdered. Then he moved her to another building where he would return to have sex again.
Crawford was well known in the New City and Englewood area. According to residents he was the type of person who would offer to do small chores for cash. “You’d never expect it,” said Englewood resident Quincy Ray. “This is a man who’d ask if he could shovel your snow.” Another neighbor said Crawford often voiced his hatred of prostitutes. “He said they shouldn’t be out there, they should get a job and do something better with their lives.” Though at the time of his arrest he was unemployed, he worked for 13 years as a newspaper delivery truck driver for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Like the police profilers warned, Crawford – who had a police record dating back to 1985 – lived in the community and traveled in the same circles as his victims. “I was glad I was caught, because I was like a shark in a pool,” Crawford told his interrogators. Crawford grew up in the area and lived in several vacant buildings that, not coincidentally, were close to the murder scenes. In the summer of 1999 he moved away from the Englewood area, “because there was too much heat.” Relocating to Chicago’s West Side he found over there the “women were tougher,” he confessed.
Katrina Martin, 34, who describes herself as a recovering drug addict, was one of three people who passed Crawford’s name to the police. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune she said had known Crawford since 1992, when she was making a living swapping sex for drugs. At the time she lived with a man who allowed crack users to get high in his apartment. Crawford was a regular there, and so where Patricia Dunns, Tommie Dennis, Sonja Brandon, Constance Bailey, Sheryl Johnson and Shaquanta “Pumpkin” Langley– six of the 10 women Crawford allegedly murdered. She started suspecting Crawford was one of the South Side killers in December 1999 when he sat behind her on a bus and told her the victims deserved to die. “(They) need to be strangled and have their heads beaten in,” she remembered him saying.
To track the serial-killer probe Crawford went to community meetings were police and residents discussed the South Side killings and the police investigation. “I found out this man was attending my meetings, clapping when I walked in,” Wentworth Area Detective Trigg said at a Chicago Commons Mary McDowell Settlement House meeting following the arrest. Crawford also participated in Operation Safe Passage, in which men escort children through tough South Side neighborhoods as they walk to school. “It’s scary that this man was able to be among a community and society for as long as he was, to be a part of the very effort that was supposed to protect us from him,” Coleman said.
In custody Sells, a drug-addict and drifter, admitted to the Rangers that he had killed between 20 and 50 people in several states over the last two decades. To date Sells has been charged with one homicide in Texas and one in Kentucky. However, he is considered a strong suspect in eleven more deaths in half-dozen states.
Not unlike serial confessor Henry Lee Lucas, Sells has traveled to Idaho, Nevada and Arkansas to try to confirm slayings that he has confessed he committed. One of the alleged victims in Central Arkansas was found alive and well. “We went to Little Rock, Arkansas, and he was able to take us to a house where a burglary and shooting had occurred,” said Texas Ranger John Allen said. “For 18 years he was sure he had hit the guy, but it turns out the guy just fell to the ground and lay there like he was hit.”
In March Tommy Lee Sells guided detectives around Pulaski County in Central Arkansas looking for evidence of two murders he said he commited there in early 1982. Sells eventually guided the detectives to a “blue hole” in southern Pulaski County and told a story of the rape and murder of a woman whose body was thrown into the deep water of a bauxite pit. Sheriff’s deputies have not yet sent divers into the pit to find the body, saying they won’t until they can confirm other parts of Sells’ tale. “It’s hard to justify spending money on divers until we can get some sort of corroborating evidence that there is a missing person,” Pulaski County sheriff’s office spokesman John Rehrauer said. “We have not been able to establish a connection to what Sells thought happened and anything in our records. Until we do, we’re not going to go to the expense of diving.”
Several weeks after the Little Rock trip, Texas authorities took Sells to southern Idaho on a similar mission, because he had confessed to three area murders. Authorities believe that two of those murders occurred in the fall of 1988 at a bridge overlook just outside of Twin Falls. The third murder occurred the following year in neighboring Gooding County. “He said he was driving a stolen black Dodge van in Salt Lake City and brought the woman — who he had been seeing for a couple of weeks — and her son to spend the night on the Snake River,” a Twin Falls County sheriff’s spokesman said. “He said he killed them and dumped them in the river.” As of now police have no missing persons report to match the alleged killing. In the third murder, Sells confessed to abducting a woman who was hitchhiking from Canada to Salt Lake City.