A man suspected of killing seven prostitutes over the past five years was charged with murder Tuesday, and police said he is a suspect in as many as 14 deaths in the city since 1999.
Shelly Andre Brooks is charged with seven counts of premeditated murder and seven counts of felony murder. The 37-year-old Detroit resident could face life in prison if convicted.
The seven victims ranged in age from 30 to 53 and were drug users, police said. All were raped, beaten to death, and their bodies were left on the city’s east side, some in buildings, others in vacant lots.
Brooks, in custody since July 30 in connection with the sexual assault of a prostitute, was to be arraigned Tuesday on the murder charges.
Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings said he also remains a suspect in the deaths of seven other prostitutes, killings that she described as “very similar.”
Bully-Cummings said the string of slayings began in 1999. She said DNA evidence connects Brooks to many of the cases. The victim of the June rape and beating also provided police with a description.
“We really do not believe that he would have stopped until he was caught,” Bully-Cummings said at a news conference.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said authorities believe Brooks’ difficult childhood may help explain the motives in the killings. She said Brooks’ mother, who no longer is alive, was a drug addict and that he was abused as a child.
“He really was killing his mother all over again,” Worthy said.
The victims are Sandra Davis, 53; Pamela Greer, 33; Marion Woods-Daniels, 36; Rhonda Myles, 45; Thelma Johnson, 30; and Melissa Toston, 38. A seventh victim was identified only as Jane Doe because her body was too decomposed to identify.
The bodies of Davis and Greer were found nearly five months apart in the same abandoned apartment building.