The case against suspected Milwaukee serial killer Walter Ellis, who was charged last year with murdering seven women over 21 years, could come to an unexpected end today, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Ellis, 50, is scheduled to be tried in April, but said yesterday that he wants to plead no contest to the seven homicides, Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams said. Ellis would be convicted automatically if he pleads no contest.
Ellis was arrested last year after investigators matched him to DNA found at all seven murder scenes. The victims were all prostitutes and were killed between 1986 and 2007. Ellis should have submitted a DNA sample to the state’s DNA databank in 2001, but authorities have said Ellis got a fellow inmate who was already convicted of a sex crime to submit a DNA sample in his name. State officials caught the disparity but never remedied the problem, leaving Ellis’ DNA out of the databank. Jonathan Safran, a lawyer who represents the children of one victim, said, “This is absolutely a surprise,” he said. “I would not have anticipated this because I’m not sure what he has to gain by this, due to the number of cases, the number of charges and the significant amount of incarceration he’s looking at if he’s convicted on any of these charges. So I’m certainly surprised, but I hope it’s true so the (victims’ families) don’t have to go through any more of this.”