DETROIT -- More charges will be filed against a 23-year-old drifter who was arraigned on three murder counts after confessing to strangling 11 women in the Detroit area, police said Sunday.
Benjamin T. Atkins has confessed to the slayings of all 11 women and on Saturday he was formally charged with three of the murders, police said.
Police said they were convinced Atkins was the serial killer they had been seeking in connection with the slayings in Detroit and adjacent Highland Park. Most of the victims were found nude, bound and strangled.
'We are satisfied, from what he has told us and details that he has given about the crimes, that he is the one,' said Highland Park police Sgt. James Dobson.
The thin, unshaven Atkins spoke clearly at his arraignment Saturday as he confirmed he understood the charges against him. He was ordered held without bond pending a Sept. 2 hearing.
Atkins was charged with three counts of murder in the deaths of Debbie A. Friday, 31, Patricia Cannon George, 36, and Vickie Truelove, 39. Police said he also sexually assaulted the women.
Friday, believed to be the first victim, was found Dec. 14, strangled, beaten and bound in the basement of a vacant Highland Park apartment building.
George was found Jan. 3 on a street just off Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Truelove was discovered Jan. 25 in an abandoned building on Woodward in Detroit.
All three women, along with eight others, were found in a 1.4-mile stretch near Woodward between Highland Park and Detroit. All were discovered in abandoned buildings and many were cocaine users, police said.
Investigators would not identify the eight other women Atkins confessed to killing, but Highland Park Public Safety Director John Mattox said Atkins lured his victims with crack cocaine, often offering to pay them with it for sex.
Atkins admits to being a crack user, Mattox said, but police had no record of drug offenses against him.
Police picked up Atkins off the street last Thursday after a woman claimed he tried to rape her a year ago. He was held on a misdemeanor trespassing charge. On Friday, investigators found the decomposed body of a woman in an abandoned garage in Highland Park.
When investigators began questioning him, Atkins embarked on a grisly narrative of the slayings, police said.
Dobson said more charges would follow once 'we get through all the paperwork.' He would not say how many more murder charges Atkins could face, but said 'he's linked to all of them.'
A woman who lives on a block where Atkins sometimes visited described the drifter as 'pleasant.'
'Everybody in the neighborhood talked to him,' said Nancy Townsend, 21.
But others said that they thought he was very troubled. When he was high on crack or alcohol, he became 'different,' said one neighbor who asked not to be identified. He would suddenly explode and curse women, acquaintances said.
Highland Park Mayor Linsey Porter, who has cited the city's many vacant buildings as an invitation to violent crime, said police 'will keep emphasizing to citizens to be more suspicious activity or suspicious characters in their neighborhood or on the street.'