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Milwaukee police link 7th case to serial killer

A prostitute whose body was found in a vacant house has become the seventh known victim of a serial killer who targeted streetwalkers in Wisconsin for more than two decades, police said Tuesday.
Serial Killer Milwaukee
This combination of undated photos shows five victims from what Milwaukee police say is a serial killer. From left to right are: Tanya L. Miller, 19, found on Oct. 11, 1986; Deborah L. Harris, 31, found on Oct. 10, 1986; Sheila Farrior, 37, found on June 27, 1995; Joyce Ann Mims, found on June 20, 1997; Quithreaun C. Stokes, found on April 27, 2007. Milwaukee Police Dept. / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A prostitute whose strangled body was found in a vacant house has become the seventh known victim of a serial killer who targeted streetwalkers in Wisconsin for more than two decades, police said Tuesday.

Police believe the suspect, whose identity is unknown, strangled five other prostitutes and had sex with a 16-year-old runaway whose throat was slashed. Another suspect likely killed the teen, police said.

DNA results came back Tuesday linking the death of Florence McCormick, 28, to the killer. Her body was found in 1995 in the basement of a vacant home by workers doing repairs.

The bodies of three of the other slain women were also found in vacant houses.

The earliest death linked to the serial killer was in 1986 and the latest was in 2007. The prostitutes killed ranged in age from 19 to 41.

Police have submitted or resubmitted DNA samples from about two dozen other unsolved homicides to see if they are related.

The daughter of victim Sheila Farrior, who was strangled in 1995, said hearing about the case brought up old emotions.

Daughter charges racism
"I have been frustrated since last night," said Shannon Farrior, who was 17 when her mother died. She said her mother had been arrested for solicitation but she didn't think she was a prostitute.

"Had it been a Caucasian lady, that killer would have been found," Farrior said. All the women were black except the 16-year-old, who was white.

"I don't understand how would a killer not make no mistakes that you can't get a lead on him in 14 years," she said. "I know he's not that clever."

Police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said police never stopped investigating the cases, but they weren't able to link them by DNA until recent weeks.

The 16-year-old, Jessica Payne, was a runaway involved in drugs, police said. Her body was found behind a vacant house on Aug. 30, 1995. Someone had slashed her throat and pulled her pants down to her ankles.

Chaunte Dean Ott was convicted of first-degree homicide in her death, but an appeals court threw out the conviction, in part pointing to DNA evidence that didn't match him. The DNA did, however, match a profile taken from the bodies of Joyce Mims and Ouithreaun Stokes. Mims was killed in 1997 and Stokes in 2007, both within a few blocks of where Payne's body was found. Both are now believed to be victims of the serial killer.

Ott is out on signature bond, waiting for district attorney to decide whether to retry him for first-degree intentional homicide. His attorney, John Pray of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, said Ott was happy about the news.

"It was already extremely tenuous, any connection to Mr. Ott, now it's even more tenuous," Pray said.

Milwaukee's last serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, admitted killing 17 men and boys between 1978 and his arrest in 1991. He was serving multiple life terms when another prison inmate beat him and another convicted murderer to death in 1994.