Donald Murphy


Donald Murphy

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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Lust killer
Number of victims: 2 - 5
Date of murders: October 23/November 7, 1980
Date of arrest: December 15, 1980
Date of birth: 1944
Victims profile: Cynthia Warren / Cecilia Knott (prostitutes)
Method of murder: Beating / Strangulation
Location: Detroit, Michigan, USA
Status: Pled guilty on two counts of murder. Sentenced to two concurrent 30-year prison terms on July 27, 1982

Detroit police had fifteen unsolved homicides of women on the books when they arrested Donald Murphy, a 36-year-old ex-convict and unemployed construction worker, on December 15, 1980.

Based on evidence in hand, they charged him with the deaths of prostitutes Cynthia Warren, beaten to death on October 23, and Cecilia Knott, stabbed and strangled two weeks later, on November 7.

Officers were satisfied with his confession in those cases, but their suspect was not finished talking, yet. To the chagrin of homicide investigators, Murphy also claimed three other victims for the year. Prostitute Jeanette Woods, age 24, had been raped, beaten and strangled on April 18, her throat slashed as a lethal afterthought.

Two months later, on June 14, the body of 22-year-old Diane Burks was found in Detroit, hogtied and strangled. On October 8, 26-year-old Betty Rembert was stabbed in the neck, finished off by crushing blows to the skull.

The problem was that officers already had a suspect in the last three slayings. Local athlete David Payton had confessed the murders, after 84 hours of police grilling, but now he was anxious to recant, charging third-degree tactics, and police were frankly embarrassed by Murphy's recital of intimate details in those crimes.

A "compromise" was reached when murder charges against Payton were dismissed in March 1981. and Murphy pled guilty on two counts of murder (Warren and Knott) on July 27, 1982, receiving; concurrent 30-year prison terms. Despite confessions from two separate suspects, the murders of Woods, Burks, and Rembert remain technically unsolved.

Murphy, Donald

(1944- )


DATE(S): 1980

VENUE: Detroit, Michigan

VICTIMS: Five confessed

MO: Lust killer of black prostitutas

DISPOSITION: Pled guilty on two counts, 1982; two concurrent 30-year terms.