26 April 2002 – Alton Coleman

A disorganised serial killer – that was how Alton Coleman was described.

An American murderer, who was not fussy who he targeted, was had up for killing four adults and four children. Of course his targets may have seemed indiscriminate, but there were observers who believed he was a racist who targeted fellow black individuals. But there could well have been others.

He was by no means on his own for this callous crime wave. He teamed up with Debra Denise Brown and together they raped, robbed and slaughtered their way round the Midwest states of America from Ohio to Illinois.

In the living room with a candlestick

One of the first was found bound and decomposing eight days after she’d disappeared. This was followed by a middle-aged couple who were thinking Coleman and Brown were there to buy their trailer. No chance. Coleman took a candlestick to the couple – knocking one unconscious and bludgeoning the other to death. The murderous pair then nabbed the car and got clean away.

I want candy

The next and perhaps most brutal involved a seven-year-old who had just got some sweets with her nine-year-old aunt Annie. Coleman and Brown accosted the pair and persuaded them to come into the woods for a game.

Some game it turned out to be. The two young girls were bound and gagged, but when Tamika Turks (the younger girl) started to cry, Brown pinned her down and held her nose will Coleman stamped on her chest and head causing internal organs to be punctured. They then left her and turned their attentions to the older girl – Annie Hilliard. She was forced to perform oral sex on both her assailants before Coleman raped her. For her pains they then choked her and beat her around the head before leaving her for dead.

Turks was dead, but Hilliard survived, however she suffered such deep lacerations that her intestines were found to be seeping in to her vagina. She remains mentally and physically scarred for life.

Reign of fear

Meanwhile the depraved duo was not done. Other victims include Paulette Anderson and her niece Tonnie Storey. But a key breakthrough came when they targeted Harry and Marlene Walters. The innocent couple were battered in their own home. While Marlene didn’t survive, Harry lived to identify his attackers.

The tail-end of June to the tail-end of July 1984 was a gruesome period for the inhabitants of three states – Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. Brown and Coleman’s assaults were swift and violent – they were chalking up quite a death toll. But by 20 July 1984, their ability to evade the authorities had ceased. After all, they were wanted in three states and the net was closing in.

Ohio was the first to give Coleman the death penalty – two, no less, via Old Sparky. Then Indiana doled out a death sentence apiece. Finally, it was Illinois’ turn, where Coleman got the lethal injection.

Despite a number of appeals, Ohio was the one to flick the switch on 46-year-old Coleman as he muttered ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ over and over again.

As for Brown, her sentence was commuted to life in 1991 and she’s still in jail in Ohio.

Also on this day

26 April 1905 – Alfred Bridgeman

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