DETROIT (AP) — Police concerned that a possible serial killer is on the loose in Detroit began inspecting hundreds of vacant homes Friday for more victims and identified a person of interest, two days after the decomposed body of a third woman was discovered.
Mayor Mike Duggan predicted it would take two weeks to check 1,000 properties on Detroit’s east side. Other crews then will board up the houses, a job that could last through July, before they’re eventually demolished.
The bodies of three women have been found in separate vacant houses since March, the latest one Wednesday. Only one so far has been ruled a homicide. But Duggan said there’s a “strong possibility” that one person is responsible for the deaths.
Police Chief James Craig believes the women could have been lured into blighted houses, raped and killed. He suspects two worked in the sex trade.
“It appears we may have a serial killer,” Craig said.
Craig said investigators are seeking a person of interest in the case: a man in his mid-30s who’s known to be homeless and who frequents the east side. Police released two photos of the man in an effort to generate tips from the public. Craig did not say why the man was considered a person of interest.
He said the third victim was a 55-year-old woman whose name he declined to release because her family had not yet been notified. The other women have been identified as Nancy Harrison, 52, and Trevesene Ellis, 53.
“We have been getting regular leads, tips” about the deaths this week, Craig said. “We’re following up on each and every one. … We’re going to find this violent predatory criminal.”
Abandoned houses have marred Detroit for years. The city has demolished about 18,000 properties since 2014 and has another 18,000 houses to go, Duggan said.
“Getting these houses down is absolutely critical,” the mayor said.
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 23-25 years old killed in 1984. Victim possibly a college student.
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 35-40 years old killed in 1981.
Unmatched Confession: White female, age 26, killed in 1983 or 1984. Victim possibly from Griffith, Georgia.
Unmatched Confession: Black female between 25-28 years old killed between 1976 and 1979 or in 1993.
Prince George’s County, Maryland
Confession Matched to a Jane Doe: White female between 20-25 years old killed in 1972. Victim possibly from Massachusetts.
Granite City, Illinois
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 26, killed between 1976 and 1979. Met victim in St. Louis, Missouri. Victim possibly called “Jo.”
Las Vegas, Nevada
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 40, killed in 1993.
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 24, killed between 1987 and the early 1990s.
Wichita Falls, Texas
Unmatched Confession: Black female killed in 1976 or 1977. Body disposed of somewhere outside of Wichita Falls (city unspecified).
West Memphis, Arkansas
Confession Matched to a Jane Doe: Black female between 28-29 years old killed in 1984. Victim picked up in Memphis, Tennessee.
Unmatched Confession: Black female, age 18, killed in 1971 or 1972. Victim possibly called “Mary Ann” or “Marianne.”
Confession Matched to a Jane Doe: Black female between 35-45 years old killed in 1977. Met the victim in Gulfport, Mississippi. Victim possibly from Pascagoula. Victim possibly worked at Ingalls Shipyard.
Unmatched Confession: White female killed in 1997. Victim possibly called “Ann.”
Unmatched Confession: Hispanic female in her 40s. Killed in 1988 or 1996. Victim possibly from Phoenix.
Los Angeles, California
Unmatched Confession: White female between 23-25 years old killed in 1996.
Unmatched Confession: White female killed in 1984. Met victim in Columbus, Ohio. Body disposed of somewhere in Northern Kentucky (city unspecified).