Milwaukee Police press release about nine unsolved homicides - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Milwaukee Police press release about nine unsolved homicides


MILWAUKEE (PRESS RELEASE)-- A man whose DNA is linked to nine unsolved homicides of females over a 21-year period has been arrested by Milwaukee Police, Chief Edward A. Flynn and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced Monday, September 7, 2009.

The DNA belonging to Walter E. Ellis, 49, of Milwaukee, was found on the bodies of nine women; eight prostitutes and one female who was a runaway who was involved in the drug trade. The homicides occurred between 1986 and 2007 on Milwaukee's north side.

"This case was solved with shoe leather and science," said Chief Flynn. "Continuing advances in DNA technology have enabled us to link these homicide cases, and it was good police work pursuing numerous leads that led to the arrest of a suspect."

The Milwaukee Police Department's Homicide Task Force Cold Case Unit was formed in May of this year but the MPD never forgot the victims whose brutal murders spanned 21 years. Many tools were used to develop suspects including resources from the Wisconsin Regional Crime Lab and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The analysts sifted through years of evidence samples resubmitted by the Task Force. As the technology evolved, the results improved.

As evidence that Milwaukee Police have submitted and resubmitted to the Wisconsin Regional Crime Lab continues to be returned, the Task Force may be linking additional homicides to this DNA profile.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's office already has charged two cold cases unrelated to the Ellis case and one awaits charging due to the work of the Task Force.

By the numbers, evidence reviewed by the Milwaukee Task Force includes:

  • More than 700 names that were contained in the nine homicide files
  • Researching 15,000 sexual assault investigations spanning 23 years
  • Reviewed about 6,000 prostitution-related investigations and arrests
  • 2,000 arrests in the geographic areas where the bodies were discovered were queried over a 15-year period
  • 1,000 names queried through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections
  • Searched the state DNA databank of 125,000 people; 6 million in the national DNA databank


  • The Homicide Task Force - Cold Case Unit consists of unit commander Lt. Keith Balash, Detectives Katherine Hein, Gilbert Hernandez, Erik Villarreal, Keith Kopcha and Justin Carloni. The Task Force was assisted by Marquette University police interns Jennifer Cossyleon and Julie Knyszek
  • The Intelligence Fusion Center, Property Control Section and Neighborhood Task Force.
  • Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, Assistant District Attorneys Mark Williams and Norm Gahn
  • FBI Special Agent David Fitzgerald, Eau Claire office; Special Agent in Charge Richard Ruminski, Milwaukee FBI office; Special Agent James McNamara; FBI Crime Analysts Jennifer Lawrence and Christine Eanes, FBI office, Quantico, Virginia
  • Wisconsin Regional Crime Lab, Milwaukee and Madison offices
  • Milwaukee County Medical Examiner Dr. Christopher Happy and his staff
  • Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation
  • National Policing Improvement Agency, Manchester, United Kingdom; Detective Chief Inspector Duncan Thorpe and Detective Sergeant Chris Holt
  • Wisconsin Department of Corrections
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, for funding a grant to investigate cold case DNA homicides
  • Franklin Police Department Chief Richard Oliva, Officer Jason Fincel, Franklin Police SWAT team
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