Detroit ramps up efforts to board up vacant houses in wake of suspected serial killer deaths

As Detroit police investigate three murders of women by a serial killer, one deterrent is being tackled by the city.

A resident named Mike remains upset the body of his good friend Trevesene Ellis was recently pulled from a blighted partially boarded up house on Linnhurst as part of the string of murders.

Detroit police say Ellis and two other women are believed to be the victims of a serial killer and rapist who works to entice sex workers to go inside vacant homes.

"I am tired of all these vacant houses," said resident named Mike. "They just pulled a friend of mine out of the house down the street, a house that should have been torn down. something and tear these house down 

The second victim was discovered in a vacant home on Coventry in May.

The third victim was discovered this week in a vacant home on Mack. The city responded by beefing up board-ups in the areas where the bodies were discovered.

"We are prioritizing the board ups that need to happen on the vacant homes within a mile radius of the homes where the crime actually happened," said Jessica Knight, BSEED.

One crew is hard at work boarding up this house on Andover Street near Coventry.  On Thursday the city spoke about the ownership of the homes where the bodies were located. 

"One is privately owned so we didn't have the right to demo it in the first place," said Alexis Wiley, city of Detroit. "And the other two are outside the zone for our federal funding."

That's why the city is pushing for a bond to increase funds for demotions.

"The long term solution is to take these houses down which is why the mayor is so focused on making sure that we have the funding we need to be able to (do it) without having to worry whether it is in what boundary and whether the federal guidelines allow us to take it down," Wiley said. "We are making sure that we finish this job and rid the city of blight."


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The city says it's working to have all blight removed by 2024 and as those efforts continue, resident Oliver Gantt is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the serial killer suspect.

"I want to offer a $1,500 reward," Gantt said. "With respect to the reward, I was hoping that the community will get more involved also. This should be a community effort. I believe someone knows who is in the neighborhood doing such things."