MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee newspaper reported Monday that local police had arrested a suspect in connection with the killings of seven women, including six suspected prostitutes, over a 21-year period that started in 1986.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the suspect, a 49-year-old Milwaukee man, was arrested Saturday and booked on a temporary felony warrant.
Police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz would not confirm an arrest Monday, telling The Associated Press only that police were talking with a “person of interest” in connection with a number of cold-case homicides.
The police department scheduled a news conference for Monday evening.
Police Chief Edward Flynn and Milwaukee County district attorney John Chisholm announced a new investigation four months ago after DNA evidence linked the women’s deaths to one person. Police said then that they never stopped investigating the cases, but scored a major breakthrough when DNA technology suggested the same person killed six of the women and had sex with the seventh.
The victims were six black women between the ages of 19 and 41 and a white 16-year-old runaway. Their bodies were found within a 3-square-mile area of Milwaukee’s north side between 1986 and 2007.
The investigation produced breaks in other cases. Detectives resubmitted more than 20 other DNA samples taken from prostitutes in unsolved homicide cases to the state crime laboratory to check for possible links to the killer. That work led to progress in at least 10 unrelated killings, authorities said.
Two people were charged in a pair cases from 1990 and charges were being considered against a third suspect, Chisholm said late last month.
Five other suspects have been identified in other cold cases, four of whom are currently serving life terms or extended terms, Flynn said. Police were continuing to gather more evidence in those cases, he said.