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Detroit — As police continue searching for more victims of a suspected serial killer and interviewing two women who allegedly survived his attacks, a man now described as a suspect in the case has been charged with four counts of sexual assault.

Since March, the bodies of three women have been found in vacant houses on Detroit's east side. They're all thought to be the work of a serial killer, Detroit police chief James Craig said. He said there are some "signatures" the killer used, but declined to elaborate, citing the open investigation.

Deangelo Kenneth Martin, 34, was arraigned Monday afternoon on one count of assault with intent to murder, and four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said.

The alleged victim in that case, who is 26 years old, is one of two females who were able to ward off attacks by Martin, Craig said Monday at a press conference at Public Safety Headquarters.

"In both cases, these women fought and they live today," Craig said, adding investigators are looking into the possibility that a Ferndale woman may also have been victimized by Martin, who was arrested Friday evening in the area of Seven Mile and Gratiot. 

Craig on Friday referred to Martin as a person of interest in the case. On Monday, the chief called him a suspect. Martin is scheduled for a probable cause hearing June 20 and a preliminary exam June 25 before Judge Lynise Bryant-Weeks of 36th District Court.

In the second case where the victim survived, Craig said Martin dragged a woman in her 50s into the same abandoned house on Mack Avenue where a 55-year-old woman's body was discovered last month.

"We're still moving forward with that investigation," Craig said. "We believe this suspect is tied into all the crimes; we’ll have more information soon."

In the case for which Martin has been charged, authorities allege he stabbed and sexually assaulted the Detroit woman at 1:40 a.m. May 7 at a house on the east side of Detroit.

After a woman's body was discovered Wednesday in an abandoned house in the 3000 block of Mack, Craig said detectives made connections between that case and two earlier homicide victims whose bodies also were discovered in vacant houses.

Most of the victims were sex workers, Craig said.

The first victim was found March 19 in an abandoned house on the 2000 block of Coventry. A second woman's body was discovered May 24 on the 13000 block of Linnhurst.

The victims were identified as Nancy Harrison, 52, and Travesene Ellis, 53. The woman found last week was 55, according to police.

Craig said police continued Monday to search abandoned homes for more possible victims. A plan, announced Friday by the chief and Mayor Mike Duggan, was to search abandoned houses on the city's east side, and then board them up after they'd been cleared.

Craig said 17 houses were boarded up Friday; 35 on Saturday, and he said 55 more are anticipated to be secured by the end of the day Monday.

ghunter@detroitnews.com

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