Medical examiner: Serial killer victims died of blunt force head trauma
Detroit — Two of four women whose bodies were found in abandoned houses on the city's east side — victims, police say, of a serial killer — died of blunt force trauma, a Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office spokeswoman said in an email Thursday.
The cause of death for the other two victims was unable to be determined, according to an email from spokeswoman Charli Rose.
"A possible fifth case is currently pending," Rose said in the email.
Police say Deangelo Martin is responsible for the women's deaths. Investigators claim Martin is a serial killer who sexually assaulted and killed his victims, although he has not been charged with any of the killings. Martin was charged with four counts of criminal sexual conduct and assault with intent to murder in an alleged May 7 incident not connected to the killings.
After police in June found the bodies of three woman in east-side abandoned houses, they determined the killings were the work of a serial killer. The victims' bodies were positioned on all fours, according to police sources and crime scene photographs reviewed by The Detroit News. Used condoms were found nearby, police sources said.
Martin's DNA matched that found in the condoms, sources told The News.
According to Rose, Nancy Harrison, 52, and Yvonne Cobern, 46, were victims of homicide caused by blunt force trauma to the head. The cause of death for Travesene Ellis, 53, was listed as "unknown indeterminate," while Rose said in the email the death of Tamara Jones, 56, also was unknown.
"Based on (the) autopsy, toxicology, and thorough investigation of circumstances a cause of death cannot be determined," Rose said.
After police found the victims' bodies, they launched a search of all abandoned houses in the city. Mayor Mike Duggan said when he announced the search in June he hoped to have all the city's vacant homes boarded up by the end of September.
Detroit police deputy chief Todd Bettison said Thursday police had searched 3,365 abandoned houses.