DETROIT – Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Monday that he believes a man being held in connection with the deaths of three women and charged in the sexual assault of a woman who survived is responsible for all the crimes and likely others.
Craig said Deangelo Martin was charged Monday with criminal sexual conduct and assault with intent to murder a 26-year-old woman in an eastside home. Martin, who doesn’t have an attorney, was arraigned Monday afternoon and returned to the Wayne County Jail. His next hearing is scheduled for June 20.
Craig said Martin, 34, hasn’t been charged with the murders, but the chief sees similarities between the three slayings and the assaults of at least two additional women who survived attacks. Police are looking at more cases in the city and a nearby suburb that could be connected, Craig said.
As for the two women who survived, Craig said, “they fought — and they live today.”
Martin was taken into custody Friday, two days after the body of a woman was found in a vacant house. The bodies of the other two women were discovered in separate empty dwellings earlier this year.
“We’re still working our case … (but) we’re confident he’s connected to all the cases we’ve described,” Craig said.
Craig said the woman who was a victim in the case for which Martin was charged is younger than the other victims, who were in their 50s. Police say the three women whose bodies were found were sex workers killed in vacant or abandoned homes.
The first victim, Nancy Harrison, 52, was found March 19. Craig said the death appeared to be a drug overdose, but the cause was changed after additional work by the medical examiner. The second victim, Trevesene Ellis, 53, was discovered on May 24. The bodies — one white, one black — were in vacant houses on Detroit’s east side.
The third victim was identified Monday as Tamara Jones, 55. Jones, whose body was badly decomposed, was discovered Wednesday and the cause and manner of her death is pending, according to the medical examiner.
Abandoned houses have marred Detroit for years. Detroit has demolished about 18,000 properties since 2014 and has another 18,000 houses to go, Mayor Mike Duggan said recently. Craig said Monday that dozens more have been boarded up in the past few days.
Craig said it’s uncommon for police to exchange information with sex workers, which was true of one of the survivors in this case. But investigators have received tips and information from them as well as relatives and community activists because police are have been working to “let the community know we care about you, we want to keep you safe.”
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