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The Woodward Corridor Killer

The Woodward Corridor Killer

Hey True Crime lovers, the case I have for you today takes place in a neighborhood that I grew up in. Although it was a few years before I was born, it’s a pretty known case and I’ve been wanting to get into this one for months. People close to me have mentioned the Woodward Corridor Killer, especially after hearing I did true crime. But when I sat back and thought about it, I heard about this growing up and many times I’ve heard people reference this case when they talk about bodies being disposed of in Highland park. So with no time to waste, let’s talk about Benjamin Atkins, The Woodward Corridor Killer.

Benjamin was born August 21,1992. Both of his parents struggled with substance abuse and according to, it was said that his father abandoned the family right after Benjamin was born. This only added to a childhood full of pain and anger. When he was 2 years old, his mother abandoned him and he was picked up by the state. He stayed in boys homes and was tormented by the other little boys who lived there. At the age of 10 he was raped by a caseworker at one of the boy's homes. During the times his mom did have custody, he and his brother saw their mom was turning tricks right in front of them. I read somewhere that he would be in the backseat of the car while his mom worked in the front seat. The first chance Benjamin had to leave his mom's care, he took it. He didn’t finish school though, so that made getting a decent job pretty hard and he’d usually have little jobs here and there. He spent most of his life homeless and police even stated that if you were to see him you wouldn’t feel alarmed or suspicious. In the areas Benjamin frequented, Nancy Thompson described Benjamin as a pleasant man. Others said yeah he was pleasant but when he was high or drunk he became a different person and would explode and curse women.

We start this story with 36 year old Darlene Saunders. She and Benjamin went into an abandoned building with plans on doing crack together. Once he was high, his whole demeanor changed and he attacked Darlene, raping and sodomizing her. He even attempted to put her in a choke hold, luckily she was able to get away and was helped by a Good Samaritan to safety. Now remember this name because Darlene’s name is brought up again in this case. For 8 months, on a 1.4 mile stretch from Detroit to Highland Park, Benjamin went on a killing spree. Two months after Darlene’s attack, the first body is discovered in an abandoned building. Special task forces were formed to put an end to this terror. With each woman that was discovered they began to pick up on a pattern. Benjamin’s victims were all black women, who did sex work, and addicted to crack. He knew that he could knock out his victims by cutting off their blood supply. He used different chokehold techniques to figure out which one worked better. They were all strangled, raped, and sodomized and his trademark was leaving a sock in their mouths. When police finally caught him August 21, 1992, police had already discovered a total of 9 women.

But how exactly did the police finally catch him? Well remember Darlene? His very first victim. Well after almost a year, she went to the police and told them about the attack she endured. They arrested him and immediately started interrogating him. Police said they believed it was him because he fit the psychological portrait that was made during the investigation. But Benjamin denied having anything to do with the killings and even said he was a homosexual and had no attraction to women. After hours and hours of trying to get something out of him The Detroit Press says that Sergeant Ronald stepped in to take a shot at it. He sat down across from him and said, “You never had a father, I have a son exactly your age. You need to get this off your chest. Talk to me.” And to many people's surprise, he talked. Benjamin spent 12 hours telling the police everything. His confessions held no remorse and no tears were shed by him. The victims, what they wore, where they were left after he killed them and even what he was thinking when it happened. He spilled it all. He told police how he would lure these women in with crack or agree to pay for sex with the drug. He even told police about two victims that they haven’t even found yet. He told investigators, “I killed them so that they couldn’t press charges.” Although we don’t know the order in which he killed these women, I can tell you when they went missing and when they were found.

So first we have 30 year old Debbie Ann Friday. This was the first body found after Darlene’s attack. She went missing on December 8, 1991 and her body was found in an abandoned apartment building December 14, 1991. She was beaten, strangled, and bound in the basement. Next body to be found was 26 year old Bertha Jean Mason. She went missing December 11, 1991 and was last seen leaving her home and entering a store. Her body was found January 25, 1992 in a vacant building on Alger off Woodward. Then we have 36 year old Patricia George who was actually on the wanted list for a drug bust earlier in December and many believed that she might have actually been the first victim. Benjamin claimed to have killed her the prior Fall. He said they went to an abandoned building together to smoke crack. Once they were high, Benjamin became mad and choked and raped her when she tried to leave. Her body was found January 3, 1992 when the building her body was in was demolished. Then there’s 39 year old Vicky Truelove who was found a January 25 in an abandoned building.

At the end of January, Benjamin was taken into police custody for trespassing. They found him inside an abandoned building in the area in which they were finding bodies. They questioned him but due to lack of evidence, police had to let him go but he was added to their suspect list. On February 17th of 1992, police searched the Monterey Motel and discovered, not one… not two… but three bodies in 3 different rooms. The bodies of 34 year old Valerie Chalk, 23 year old Juanita Hardy, and a Jane Doe whose remains are still unknown to this day, we’re all found. When Benjamin was telling police about 23 year old victim Juanita Hardy, he said, “I never really planned to kill her. After raping her, having sex, with her, and hating her for being a woman. I just wanted to hate her and cause her harm.” The next victim, when police discovered the body, they originally didn’t put this death with the others because they assumed that it was just an overdose situation. 28 year old Brenda Mitchell went missing April 4th, 1992. She was last seen going to the store with her 2 kids. She was found naked with only a scarf around her neck and forensics discovered a lethal dosage of drugs in her system. Without Benjamin’s confession, her death would have remained on OD on file. There was 27 year old Vicki Beasley who was last seen March 25 and found April 15, 1992, her body partially decomposed. And last we have 45 year old Joanna O’Rourke whose body was found June 15th.

When asked if he hates women, he responded, “It’s not all women I hate, it’s the prostitutes, this is what they want.” It took 16 months for his trial to begin, which of course made the families of the victims so mad. Prosecutors said the reason for the delay was due to extreme Psychiatric and psychology tests being performed on Benjamin. During his trial, his lawyer defended Benjamin by saying his addiction to crack along with his bad childhood is the cause behind Benjamin’s madness and pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. There had to be two different juries for the different districts where the bodies were found. After 4 months of trial and 3 days of deliberations, Benjamin was charged and sentenced to 11 life sentences. He was sent to prison but 4 years into his sentencing, he was transferred to Duane Waters Hospital which was connected to Egeler Correctional Facility in Jackson. His cause of death was the HIV infection.

With all that being said and reading the views of how Benjamin felt about sex workers, I just want to say whether you’re in the sex industry or any industry, your life matters.,8952560

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