John Eric Armstrong claimed that a teenage rejection was the catalyst for a killing spree.
John Eric Armstrong was 26 and doted on his wife. And when his wife fell pregnant again, he was overjoyed.
Armstrong had recently left the Navy, worked at Detroit airport.
On 2 January 2000, he phoned police. Said he’d leant off a bridge and spotted a body in the river below.
Officers found the strangled body of a local prostitute Wendy Jordan. Just weeks earlier, another prostitute had been found strangled on a local road.
But police were suspicious of Armstrong’s story.
‘Unless you were a contortionist and hung over the bridge, you wouldn’t have seen (Jordan),’ an officer later recalled.
By mid-February they were convinced he was the killer. Then tests revealed fibres from inside his Jeep matched those found on the body. Proof.
Incredibly, the prosecutor’s office deemed it insufficient evidence.
On 28 March, the state lab confirmed DNA found on Wendy’s corpse was from Armstrong. But prosecutors refused to issue a warrant until they had the lab results in writing.
On 10 April, police found three more strangled prostitutes. After this grim discovery, three sex workers contacted police.
A 22-year old transvestite said a man in a Jeep had paid him for sex. But he’d begun throttling him, yelling that he hated prostitutes.
Two female prostitutes shared almost identical stories. All described a chubby man with red hair and freckles and tiger tattoos on his arm.
He even wore a jacket bearing the name ‘Eric’.
It was Armstrong.
Police arrested him. This time he confessed saying he hated prostitutes. Said he’d committed his first murder at 17. Since then, he’d strangled prostitutes all over the world as he’d served on the USS Nimitz.
A trail of death in ports across Hawaii, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Virginia, Israel, Seattle…
Armstrong was charged with the five local murders, plus three counts of assault with intent to murder.
His mother, Linda, told police about Armstrong’s troubled past…
He’d been named John Armstrong Jnr. His father, John, had been violent to his wife. And when he was 5, his brother, Michael, died of cot death at just 2 months. Afterwards John Snr abandoned his family.
Armstrong refused to be called John Jnr, adopting his middle name instead. He’d had counselling, grown into a polite, quiet boy. Then he’d joined the Navy and was awarded two good-conduct medals.
In 1998, Armstrong got married and they soon had a son, another baby on the way. He’d left the Navy to focus on his family.
So where had it all gone wrong? Armstrong told police he was sexually abused as a child, though this wasn’t verified.
At high school his heart was broken when his girlfriend left him for another man who, he claimed, had seduced her with expensive gifts.
Armstrong said he’d considered her actions to be like prostitution. He’d been taking his revenge.
In 2001, Armstrong was sentenced to life without parole for two first-degree murders, and 31 years to life for three second-degree murders plus one intent to do GBH.
Detectives found no unsolved murders to match his claims around the world.
We may never know how many prostitutes Armstrong killed. But finally, his killing spree is over.