Suspected serial killer charged in murder, assault
Detroit — A man who police suspect is a possible serial killer in three states was formally charged Tuesday in connection with a 2000 sexual assault and the 2003 slaying of a Detroit woman.
James Matthews, 65, was charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the death of Marchella Robinson of Detroit. Robinson was found strangled on the lawn of her home in the 11400 block of St. Mary's in January 2003.
He has to post a $250,000 cash bond before he can be released while he awaits trial on the charges. A not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Ashley Ciaffone had requested that Matthews receive no bond, saying he was a danger to the community and could not be trusted to show up in court because he has ties to New York and Texas, where he has been convicted.
Matthews also is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with an attack on a 50-year-old woman at his home in the 15000 block of Dolphin on July 12, 2000. Police say Matthews asked the woman, an acquaintance, to come to his home to talk, then allegedly sexually assaulted her while armed with a knife.
Matthews was arrested then, a DNA sample was taken, and a sexual assault warrant submitted to prosecutors. But the woman did not show up for an interview with prosecutors and the case was closed, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.
During his video arraignment before 36th District Court Magistrate Millicent Sherman, Matthews said, "I don't know what's going on," and told Sherman "the last case you called was not me" referring to a domestic violence case he also was arraigned on.
Matthews is due back in court 8:30 a.m. Aug. 28 for a probable cause conference . He is scheduled for a preliminary examination at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 4, both before 36th District Court Judge Deborah Lewis Langston. Matthews is also scheduled for a hearing on the domestic violence case Aug. 29.
Matthews was arrested in New York on the sexual assault charges on April 19 but refused to waive extradition to Michigan. After hearings in New York, he was extradited to Michigan and arrived Sunday, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.
Matthews, 65, is a suspect in two homicides in Michigan, three in Texas and one in New York, according to Detroit police officials. Detectives are poring over old case files to determine if they can connect him to more killings.
Authorities also are investigating how the 2003 strangulation case against Matthews was flubbed. Investigators submitted a warrant request to Wayne County prosecutors seeking murder charges against him, but the warrant was never pursued — and then, police say, he went on to kill more victims, all women.
Police Chief James Craig told The Detroit News for a story published last week that prosecutors "never did anything with the warrant request, and our detectives didn't follow up on it. The case just fell into a black hole."
In April 2018, after police contacted the victim and she agreed to testify, a warrant was signed charging Matthews with first-degree criminal sexual assault, according to Detroit police.
Also in April, Matthews was arrested in New York for a 2007 homicide, although a grand jury later dismissed the charges. He remained in jail, however, because his DNA was in the police computer system stemming from his 2000 sexual assault arrest, when a saliva sample was taken from him.
As Detroit detectives investigated the rape case, they discovered the dormant 2003 murder warrant.