DETROIT (AP) – A prosecutor announced murder charges Wednesday against a 34-year-old man in the slayings of four women whose deaths Detroit police have characterized as the work of a serial killer.
Deangelo Martin is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and four counts of felony murder in the killings of the women whose bodies were found in abandoned houses in the city from March to June, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said at a news conference.
Martin is expected to be arraigned on these charges Wednesday afternoon, Worthy said.
Martin, who was arrested in June, was already charged in the stabbing and sexual assault of 26-year-old woman in May and the kidnapping and assault of a 51-year-old woman in June.
Police Chief James Craig said he sees similarities between three of the slayings and the assaults of at least two other women who survived attacks. The slain women were all in their 40s and 50s.
Worthy named the victims as Annetta Nelson, 57; Nancy Harrison, 52; Trevesene Ellis, 55; and Tamara Jones, 55. Police said earlier that Jones’ badly decomposed body was found June 5, Ellis was discovered May 24, and Harrison was found March 19.
Police had earlier named another woman, 45-year-old Yvonne Cobern, who they said was killed June 10.
Police have said they believe all the women were sex workers.
Martin was initially arrested in June in the rape and attempted murder of a woman who was able to escape the attack. At that point, police had already uncovered three homicide victims, and teams of police officers and other city workers were searching hundreds of vacant buildings for more bodies.
Six years ago, Detroit had at least 30,000 empty houses and 20 square miles (50 square kilometers) of vacant land. Mayor Mike Duggan has said removing blighted houses is a priority in his efforts to revive Detroit since the city’s 2014 exit from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Duggan this week announced plans to ask voters to approve the sale of up to $250 million in bonds to eradicate residential blight across the city. A proposed resolution to put the initiative on the March 2020 ballot has been submitted to the City Council.