Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Eric Armstrong: The Model Sailor

Wendy Jordan

Detroit, Michigan Present day

Bonnie Jordan insists over and over to anyone who will listen that her sister Wendy, 39, was not a prostitute. Bonnie is convinced that Wendy had put that part of her life behind her in the two years she had been off drugs. Wendy was working a good job as a manager of a gas station in the working class Detroit suburb of Royal Oak and didnt need to sell her body on the cold streets of Detroit, Michigan.

She may have been that in the past when she was doing drugs, Bonnie admitted. But not when she died.

Wendy had been clean for two years, she added.

The new millennium started on a tragic note for the Jordan family. They had last seen Wendy at about 9 p.m. on New Years Day when she left them at home and said she was going out. Wendy never returned and the family learned two days later that the former addicts body had turned up in the dirty water of the Rouge River in Dearborn Heights, an industrial area of Detroit known more for its automobile plants than anything else.

Clearly, Wendy Jordan had met with foul play. She had been strangled and her lifeless body had been thrown from a bridge into the water.

In a strange twist, police would learn too late that they had been closer than they ever would have thought to Jordans killer and if the red tape of bureaucracy had not slowed their investigation, authorities might have been able to apprehend a murderer before he had the chance to kill again.

As it stands now, however, a cautious Wayne County Prosecutors office allowed the killer to remain on the loose and enabled him to slay three more women, authorities said. Detroit area police are convinced that the man they now have in custody is responsible for those four killings, plus the murder of another reputed prostitute in December 1999.

But John Eric Armstrongs list of killings could spread far beyond the city limits of Detroit, or even the continental United States, for when authorities finally collared Armstrong after a number of prostitutes reported that a man fitting his description had been attacking them for weeks, the 26-year-old former Navy seaman admitted to as many as 30 murders in countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Korea, Israel, and Hong Kong.

Detroit police believe Armstrong's spree may have begun eight years ago, when he joined the Navy in Raleigh, North Carolina. Detroit police and the FBI are trying to match a list of Nimitz port visits between 1992 and April 1999, when Armstrong was discharged from the military, with a list of unsolved killings in cities across the world. Detroit police believe they can link Armstrong to the Detroit slayings and to three in Seattle, two in Hawaii, two in Hong Kong, and one each in North Carolina, Thailand, Singapore and Virginia. Other slayings may include prostitute strangulations in Japan, Korea and Israel, police said.

If these killings turn out to be true and there is some evidence that Armstrongs list of victims is not nearly as long as he says, then the strawberry blond-haired, baby-faced 300-pound aircraft refueler could be one of the most well-traveled serial killers in history.


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