Benjamin Tony Atkins, also known as the Woodward Corridor Killer, was an American serial killer who killed 11 women in Detroit, Michigan during a period of 9 months between December 1991 and August 1992.
All the victims were found in vacant buildings, all were raped and strangled. Many of the victims were working as prostitutes. Atkins said he was motivated by a hatred of prostitution.
Benjamin (Tony) Atkins (August 26, 1968 – September 17, 1997), also known as the Woodward Corridor Killer, was an American serial killer who killed 11 women in Detroit, Michigan during a period of nine months between December 1991 and August 1992.
All the victims were found in vacant buildings, all were raped and strangled. The majority of the women were murdered in Highland Park. Many of the victims were working as prostitutes. Atkins said he was motivated by a hatred of prostitution. During his trial, it was revealed that Atkins himself was raped at age 10 and witnessed his mother engage in prostitution.
Atkins was sentenced to eleven life sentences. However, on September 17, 1997, he died of an infection caused by HIV.
Darlene Saunders, 35, attacked and raped in October 1991 in Highland Park. She survived.
Debbie Ann Friday, 30, found strangled on December 14, 1991 in Highland Park
Bertha Jean Mason, 26, found strangled on December 30, 1991 in Detroit
Patricia Cannon George, 36, found strangled on January 3, 1992 in Detroit
Vickie Truelove, 39, found strangled January 25, 1992 in Detroit
Valerie Chalk, 34, found strangled February 17, 1992 at Monterey Motel, Room 68, Highland Park
Juanita Hardy, 23, found strangled at Monterey Motel, Room 35, February 17, 1992
Unknown female's body found strangled at Monterey Motel, Room 18, February 17, 1992
Brenda Mitchell, 38, found strangled April 9, 1992 in Highland Park
Vicki Beasley-Brown, 43, found strangled April 15, 1992 in Highland Park
Joanne O'Rourke, 40, found strangled June 15, 1992 in Highland Park
Ocinena Waymer, 22, found strangled August 21, 1992 in Highland Park
Serial killer dies 4 years into 11 life sentences
By Joe Swickard - Detroit Free Press
Saturday, October 11, 1997
Benjamin (Tony) Atkins, who grew from a tortured childhood into America's fastest serial killer, has died four years into the 11 life terms he was serving for a string of murders in Detroit and Highland Park.
Atkins , 29, died three weeks ago at Duane Waters Hospital, which is connected with the Egeler Correctional Facility in Jackson. Cause of death was listed as HIV infection.
Word of his death moved through the Detroit criminal justice community late this week when appellate courts announced that the challenge to his multiple convictions was moot.
"While no one takes joy in another's death -- even one who has committed such hideous crimes -at least those who lost loved ones at Mr. Atkins ' hands can take comfort in knowing he will never be released back into society," said Michael Reynolds, who prosecuted Atkins in a fourmonth Detroit Recorder's Court trial.
During a nine-month period in 1991 and 1992, Atkins raped and strangled 11 women, many of whom had histories of prostitution and drug abuse. Several of his victims were found in abandoned motels and other derelict buildings near Woodward Avenue.
Atkins amassed the greatest number of victims in such a period of time in the United States, according to FBI investigators.
Atkins said he was driven by hatred of prostitutes.
Before he was arrested, as the toll mounted, a task force of investigators from Highland Park, Detroit, the Michigan State Police and the FBI was assembled.
The coalition underscored the urgency of the manhunt, given the frequently bitter relations between the Detroit city administration and the FBI.
Yet, through false starts and occasional stumbles, the task force pulled together, helped in great measure by a woman who had survived an attack by a street character she knew only as Tony.
"Any serial killer, especially a prolific one like Atkins , requires a good team effort," task force member Paul Lindsay said Friday.
While prostitutes and drug users are sometimes mocked and disdained -- even when brutally victimized -- the task force was not deterred.
"It doesn't matter who the victims are, you just want it stopped," said Lindsay.
With the help of the surviving victim, Atkins , who sometimes worked as a pizza cook, was arrested along Woodward.
Atkins was a study of childhood distress. He grew up in boys' homes when not living with his mother, a prostitute who turned tricks in the front seats of cars as the young Atkins watched from the back. He also was raped as a child by a caseworker, his attorney said.
At first, Atkins denied the killings, saying his homosexuality precluded any interest in women.
But watching the interrogation was Detroit homicide detective Sgt. Ronald Sanders. Scheduled to leave on vacation in an hour, Sanders asked for a shot at Atkins.
"You never had a father," Sanders said then. "I have a son exactly your age. You need to get this off your chest. Talk to me."
And Atkins did. Working his way through five cheeseburgers, Atkins confessed to the murders, including one victim that he had hidden in a secret basement beneath a vacant garage.
But, still, task force member James Dobson wonders what really pushed Atkins.
"Why? Why did it all happen," asked Dobson, who retired from the Highland Park police department as a lieutenant. "Who knows what happned in those lives that brought this to pass. And who knows what happend to him."
At trial, his attorney, Jeffrey Edison, fought hard to convince jurors that Atkins was a product of a harsh society and environment.
But in the end, jurors pronounced Atkins guilty. He seemed to shrug it off. His greatest concern on leaving the court room, a sheriff's deputy said, was getting a cigarette.
"Sooner or later," Lindsay said
Friday from his East Coast retirement home, "justice
Crack addict confesse he killed women
Kingman Daily Miner
August 30, 1992
Highland Park, Mich. (AP) - A homeless crack addict who police say is a serial killer spent 12 hours telling police how he raped and strangled 11 women, a newspaper reported today.
"I killed all 11 of them so I didn't have to worry about them pressing charges," Benjamin Atkins told investigators Aug. 21, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Atkins, 24, had been charged in the slayings of four women and with attempted murder and rape in an attack on a fifth. The dead women were among at least nine whose bodies have been found in Detroit and the enclave of Highland Park since December.
The Free Press said Atkins described the killing of Juanita Harvey, 23, whose body was found in an abandoned motel.
"I never really planned to kill her," Atkins said, according to the newspaper. "After raping her, having sex and hating her for a being a woman, I had the desire to kill her for being a woman. I just wanted to hate her and cause her harm."
The newspaper said Atkins told investigators he killed his first victim, Patricia George, 36, last fall. He said they had smoked crack together in an abandoned building and he became enraged, choked her and raped her when she tried to leave, the Free Press said.
The woman's body was found Jan. 3, when the building was being demolished.
Benjamin Tony Atkins
A chart from when the police force was trying to catch the Woodward Corridor Killer