The Milwaukee North Side Strangler served just three years in prison for killing seven women before he died Sunday of what authorities believe to be natural causes.
Walter Ellis, 53, received seven consecutive life sentences for the strangling deaths of seven women between 1986 and 2007.
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A news release by the South Dakota Department of Corrections said Ellis
was being housed at a state prison as part of an interstate compact agreement.
The death will be investigated by the Division of Criminal Investigation as part of standard procedures that occur whenever an inmate dies, and an autopsy will be performed, the release said.
Ellis died at a Sioux Falls hospital.
The Milwaukee Strangler was arrested in 2009 and pleaded no-contest in the seven deaths of women aged 16 to 41. Police matched Ellis’ DNA to semen at six of the murders and to a blood sample at the seventh.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said the case against Ellis
brought out some problems with DNA collection in the state. Ellis had been arrested several times in his life and after one incident, in which he hit a girlfriend with a hammer, his DNA should have been collected. But instead, Ellis got another inmate to submit DNA for him.
The newspaper said that if Ellis’ DNA had been on file, he possibly could have been caught before killing the last victim in 2007.
The case became even more convoluted as Ellis was linked to two slayings in which two other men had been found guilty and were serving time, the Journal-Sentinel reported. William Avery served six years for one death, while Chaunte Ott served 13 years for another murder. Both men were freed after DNA evidence was found that linked the murders to Ellis.
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