Written By: JASR
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Benjamin “Tony” Atkins, or “The Woodward Corridor Killer,” was a serial killer who murdered 11 women between December 1991 and August 1992. Due to his hatred toward prostitution, many of his victims were prostitutes. All of them were found in vacant buildings – raped and strangled. “It’s not all women I hate, it’s the prostitutes,” Atkins said in his confession. “This is what they want.”
Atkins was born on August 26, 1968, in Detroit, Michigan. He was abandoned by his mother at the age of 2. At the age of 10, he was raped by his caseworker. As a child, he also witnessed his mother engage in prostitution. While his career prior and during his crimes was unclear, sources say he sometimes worked as a pizza cook. He admitted to being a crack user, but police did not have records of drug offenses against him. A woman who lives on the block that Atkins sometimes visited described him as “pleasant,” as “everybody in the neighborhood talked to him.” However, others said that he became “different” when he was high on crack or alcohol. People said he would suddenly curse women.
Crimes and Trial
From 1991 to 1992, Atkins raped and strangled 11 women. They were found in abandoned motels and other neglected buildings near Woodward Avenue. Atkins slowly strangled each of his victims as he raped them. According to police, his victims were prostitutes who were lured into abandoned buildings with promises of crack. A 36-year-old woman said Atkins raped her, but she was able to break free and fight him off. That is believed to be his first attack – prompting him to look for easier targets and more certain methods. His later victims were weaker and smaller.
According to investigators, Atkins intentionally prolonged the actual killing. He let some of his victims revive from time to time before he killed them. The police were convinced that Atkins was the serial killer they were looking for in connection with the killings in Detroit and adjacent Highland Park. Atkins had pleaded innocent on account of insanity – with his lawyer blaming Atkins’s crimes on addiction to crack cocaine and a bad childhood. On the other hand, sources also say he confessed to the slayings of all 11 women. Investigators said he confessed to the killings after the body of a woman was found in the basement of an abandoned garage.
He was charged with three counts of murder in the deaths of Debbie Ann Friday, 31; Patricia Cannon George, 36; and Vickie Truelove, 39. Friday, George, and Truelove – along with eight others – were all discovered in abandoned buildings. Atkins was convicted of 11 counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree sexual conduct. He was also sentenced to 11 life sentences.
Atkins died at 29 years old on September 17, 1997, due to an infection caused by HIV at Duane Waters Hospital, which is connected with the Egeler Correctional Facility. He died four years into the 11 life terms he was serving.
Michael Reynolds, who prosecuted Atkins, said that “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.”
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