The Life and Crimes Serial Killer Alton Coleman

Mug shot of Alton Coleman

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Accompanied by his girlfriend Debra Brown, Alton Coleman went on a six-state raping and killing spree in 1984.

Early Years

Alton Coleman was born on November 6, 1955, in Waukegan, Illinois, about 35 miles from Chicago. His elderly grandmother and his prostitute mother raised him. Having some mild intellectual handicaps, Coleman was often teased by schoolmates because he sometimes wet his pants. This problem earned him the nickname of "Pissy" among his young peers.

Insatiable Sex Drive

Coleman dropped out of middle school and became known to local police for committing petty crimes involving property damage and setting fires. But with every passing year, his crimes grew from petty into more serious charges of sex crimes and rape.

He was also known for having an insatiable and dark sex drive which he sought to satisfy with both men, women, and children. By the age of 19, he was charged six times for rape, including that of his niece who later dropped the charges. Remarkably, he would convince jurors that the police had arrested the wrong man or intimidate his accusers into dropping the charges.

Mayhem Begins

In 1983, Coleman was charged with rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl who was the daughter of a friend. It was at this point Coleman, along with his girlfriend Debra Brown, fled Illinois and began their brutal rape and murder spree across six Midwestern states.

Why Coleman decided to flee being charged this time is unknown since he strongly believed he had voodoo spirits that protected him from the law. But what really protected him was his ability to blend into African American communities, befriend strangers, then turn on them with vicious brutality.

Vernita Wheat

Juanita Wheat was living in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with her two children, Vernita, age nine, and her seven-year-old son. In early May 1984, Coleman, introducing himself as a nearby neighbor, befriended Wheat and visited her and her children often over a period of a few weeks. On May 29, Wheat gave permission for Vernita to go with Coleman to his apartment to pick up stereo equipment. Coleman and Vernita never returned. On June 19, she was found murdered, her body left in an abandoned building in Waukegan, Illinois. Police also found a fingerprint at the scene that they matched to Coleman.

Tamika and Annie

Seven-year-old Tamika Turkes and her nine-year-old niece Annie were walking home from a candy store when Brown and Coleman led them into nearby woods. Both children were then bound and gagged with strips of cloth torn from Tamika's shirt. Annoyed by Tamika's crying, Brown held his hand over her nose and mouth while Coleman stomped on her chest, then strangled her to death with elastic from a bedsheet.

Annie was then forced to have sex with both adults. Afterward, they beat and choked her. Miraculously Annie survived, but her grandmother, unable to deal with what happened to the children, later killed herself.

Donna Williams

On the same day that Tamika and Annie were attacked, Donna Williams, age 25, of Gary, Indiana, came up missing. She only knew Coleman for a short time before she and her car disappeared. On July 11, 1984, Williams was found strangled to death in Detroit. Her car was found parked close to the scene, four blocks from where Coleman's grandmother lived.

Virginia and Rachelle Temple

On July 5, 1984, Coleman and Brown, now in Toledo, Ohio, gained the trust of Virginia Temple. Temple had several children, the oldest being her daughter, nine-year-old Rachelle. Both Virginia and Rachelle were found strangled to death.

Tonnie Storey

On July 11, 1984, Tonnie Storey, age 15, from Cincinnati, Ohio, was reported missing after she failed to return home from school. Her body was found eight days later in an abandoned building. She had been strangled to death.

One of Tonnie's classmates testified that she saw Coleman talking to Tonnie the day she disappeared. A fingerprint at the crime scene was also linked to Coleman, and a bracelet was found under Tonnie's body, which was later identified as one missing from the Temple home.

Harry and Marlene Walters

On July 13, 1984, Coleman and Brown bicycled to Norwood, Ohio, but left almost as soon as they arrived. They made a stop before leaving to Harry and Marlene Walters' home under the pretense of being interested in a travel trailer the couple was selling. Once inside the Walters' home, Coleman struck the Walters with a candlestick and bound then strangled them.

Mrs. Walters was struck up to 25 times and mutilated with a pair of vice grips on her face and scalp. Mr. Walters survived the attack but suffered brain damage. Coleman and Brown stole the couple's car which was found two days later in Lexington, Kentucky.

Oline Carmichael, Jr.

In Williamsburg, Kentucky, Coleman and Brown kidnapped college professor Oline Carmichael, Jr., forced him into the trunk of his car, and then drove it to Dayton, Ohio. Authorities found the car and Carmichael still alive in the trunk.

The End of the Killing Spree

By the time authorities caught up with the deadly pair on July 20, 1984, they had committed at least eight murders, seven rapes, three kidnappings, and 14 armed robberies.

After careful consideration by authorities from six states, it was decided that Ohio would be the best place to prosecute the pair because it approved of the death penalty. Both were found guilty of the murder of Tonnie Storey and Marlene Walters and they both received the death penalty. An Ohio governor later commuted Brown's death sentence to life imprisonment.

Coleman Fights for His Life

Coleman's appeal efforts were unsuccessful and on April 25, 2002, while reciting "The Lord's Prayer," Coleman was executed by lethal injection.

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