In the summer of 2009, Milwaukee law enforcement announced the arrest of a man believed to be responsible for at least eight murders of women with histories of prostitution arrests from 1986 to 2007. You can find detailed reports about these cases here.
While Milwaukee news media talked about one serial killer, lost in those reports was the fact that actually 42 women involved in the sex trade were murdered in that 21 year period. The number connected by DNA evidence to one suspect was much smaller. It's hard to decide what is more chilling - a serial killer who went unstopped for 21 years or over 30 individual murderers who each killed one woman - some of whom have also escaped arrest, as the police have noted not all cases have been "cleared," or resulted in an arrest.
The man currently charged in the serial killings had a known history of violence. Before ever murdering anyone, the Journal Sentinel reported that in February of 1985: "(H)e was charged with attacking his girlfriend after accusing her of cheating on him. He punched her repeatedly in the face, pulling out a gun and forcing her to prostitute herself on W. North Ave., the criminal complaint says. Ellis watched from his car as she had sex with seven different men over several hours in a parking lot, according to charging documents. Those charges, too, were dropped. Records don't say why."
As the law enforcement task force on unsolved homicides filled the news, outreach workers and community members - including people currently trading sex for money talked about the ongoing violence towards people involved in the sex trade. People tried to share what they had heard informally and support those who had been assaulted, raped, beaten and abused.
A bad date sheet is a tool to share information about violent perpetrators who target people involved in trading sex or sexual kinds of activities for money and survival. We will collect, share and distribute the reports of violence that we experience and hear.
Just like in the Ellis case, people who commit serious violence like murder often start out with other violent acts. A bad date sheet means someone will have the ability to better avoid people who have committed violent acts in the past.
The Milwaukee Bad Date Sheet is an effort of many of the local organizations committed to supporting youth and adults who sell sex for money and survival. We've been around for 8 years. We are all volunteers and your ideas, suggestions and support are welcome.