Walter E Ellis, 49, has been charged in the deaths of two of the nine victims, and more charges are expected this week, prosecutors said.
Ellis had been in trouble with the law before. He pleaded no contest in 1998 to a reduced charge of second-degree reckless injury and served three years of a five-year sentence, police chief Edward Flynn said. That wasn’t enough to raise red flags, he added, without providing additional details about that crime.
It was only in recent years that DNA technology evolved enough to connect the cases to the suspect, the chief said.
“Good police work and good police science led us to Walter Ellis,” he added.
Police began to focus on Ellis after his name surfaced in connection with a number of unsolved homicides, Flynn said.
The chief would not be more specific.
A warrant for Ellis was issued on Friday and on Saturday, an officer in suburban Franklin spotted Ellis’s vehicle at a local hotel. Ellis was arrested after struggling with officers, Flynn said.
Police said Ellis’s DNA was found on the bodies of nine women, ranging from 16 to 41. They were killed between 1986 and 2007 on the city’s north side. Investigators believe eight of the women were prostitutes and one was a runaway.
Police previously have speculated that the person whose DNA sample they recovered on the runaway had sex with that girl, but that someone else killed her. But Chisholm would not say whether anyone else would be charged in the killings.