LANSING, Mich. — A prison parolee and registered sex offender is suspected of killing five women in the city in just over a month, police said Friday.
Matthew Emmanuel Macon, 27, of Lansing, also could face charges for a sixth killing from 2004.
Lansing Police Chief Mark Alley said murder and assault charges were being pursued against Macon, who was paroled from state prison June 26. Macon also is a registered sex offender, Alley said.
He had been in prison off and on since 2001, returning twice for parole violations after serving more than a year-and-a-half for larceny from a person, said state Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan.
Macon also had an extensive juvenile criminal history, including two sex offenses, breaking and entering, larceny and unlawfully driving away an automobile, Marlan said.
He was arrested Tuesday in connection with the deaths this summer of Ruth Hallman, 76; Deborah Cooke, 36; Debra Renfors, 46; Sandra Eichorn, 64; and Karen Yates, 41.
He also may be charged with the 2004 death of Barbara Jean Tuttle of Lansing.
Police had been looking for clues and help from the public in five unsolved homicides since late July, including two this week — which had raised concerns a serial killer was on the loose in the state capital, a city of 114,000 located about 75 miles northwest of Detroit. Alley declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding the arrest, or any motive for the homicides.
Investigators had noted similarities between several of the slayings and a series of unsolved 2003 assaults. The 2003 victims were middle-aged or older women who lived alone, as were a number of the recent homicide victims.
Yates died two days after Eichorn was found dead in the house she rented on Lansing’s west side. On Tuesday, a 56-year-old woman received non-life-threatening injuries in an attack in her home on the city’s east side. Her dog heard the commotion and charged the man, causing him to flee the scene.
Police credited the woman for providing key details that helped focus their investigation and led to a sketch of a suspect being distributed to the public.
At the time, police said the person responsible for that attack was connected to the deaths of Eichorn, Cooke, Renfors, Yates and Hallman, who was found beaten in her home July 26 and died later.
Cooke’s body was found Aug. 6 in a city park. Renfors was found dead Aug. 9 in a house.
The crimes all appeared to fit a profile. The victims were women who lived alone and were beaten.
But Thursday, Lansing police said residents could rest a little easier. A man authorities say is responsible for five homicides and one assault starting in late July and continuing through Wednesday had been arrested.
The spree by day and victims:
• July 26: Ruth Hallman, 76, a neighborhood activist and mother of Lansing Councilwoman Carol Wood, was found beaten in her West Lapeer Street home. She died from the injuries two days later. Hallman had long stood for safe streets and often provided information to police about drug houses.
• Aug. 7: Deborah Kaye Cooke, 36. Her body was found in Hunter Park on the city’s east side. Officers were on routine patrol about 4:30 a.m. when they spotted her body next to a tree. She was bloodied and beaten in the face and naked below the waist.
• Aug. 9: Debra Renfors, 46, was found dead in her new home in the 1000 block of North Washington in the Old Town district. Friends said Renfors was trying to leave a life of prostitution and would clean homes to avoid the temptation of returning to the streets. She moved from Mt. Clemens to Lansing about seven years ago.
• Monday: Sandra Eichorn, 64, was found dead in a home she was renting in the 1800 block of South Genesee on the west side. Eichorn, a General Motors Corp. plant retiree, had been renting the house for about a year and lived by herself. She was a NASCAR fan.
• Tuesday: A 56-year-old woman was assaulted in her home in the 200 block of Jones Street on the east side. The woman was able to call police from her home after the assault. Police said the attacker, who claimed to be looking for work, entered her back door and struck her in the head.
The woman’s dog scared off the man and he fled. Police said the woman’s description — and evidence inside the home — led them to the suspect. Police would not identify the victim, who has been released from the hospital.
• Wednesday: Karen Delgado-Yates, 41, was found injured in a vacant house in the 1100 block of Hickory Street. Investors interested in buying the house found Delgado-Yates. She died on the way to the hospital. Delgado-Yates also had a history of prostitution and had lived in a homeless shelter for a while.