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Archive for Saturday, July 22, 2000

Sailor to stand trial in murders

July 22, 2000

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— A former Navy sailor suspected of going from port to port killing women was ordered Friday to stand trial in the first of five prostitute-murder cases against him in the Detroit area.

John Eric Armstrong, 26, told police he was "guilty, sorry and angry" for strangling Wendy Jordan on Jan. 2, according to a confession that was read Friday in Dearborn Heights District Court.

He had sex with the 39-year-old woman near downtown Detroit early that morning, killed her and dumped her body in the Rouge River, he told Detroit Police.

Judge Mark J. Plawecki ruled Armstrong was mentally competent and will stand trial. Pre-trial hearings in the other cases are scheduled in Dearborn and Detroit in coming weeks.

Armstrong was arrested April 12 after allegedly admitting to the Detroit-area killings, four more attacks on prostitutes and at least 11 other slayings at American and Asian ports of call while on board the USS Nimitz.

In the confession that Detroit Police Officer Donald Johnson read in court, Armstrong said he killed Jordan "because I hated her because she was a prostitute."

He also said "that I am sorry what I have done to this woman."

Armstrong's attorney questioned the confession and said he will provide witnesses who will testify Jordan was alive after Armstrong told police he had killed her.

"The statement is suspect," said lawyer Robert Mitchell. "I think (Johnson) worked himself into a position that he'd be a star if he could get a confession."

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