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Published: Wednesday, 10/4/2006

Colvin tied to 6th murder

BY ROBIN ERB AND ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
Dellmus Colvin Dellmus Colvin
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Dellmus Colvin, the Toledo long-haul trucker and convicted serial killer, has admitted "his involvement" in the death of a sixth prostitute, investigators said yesterday.

"He told us the method of her death," Toledo police Sgt. Steve Forrester said. "It was an intended overdose."

He declined to elaborate on Colvin's role in the murder of 40-year-old Dorothea Wetzel of Toledo, citing the ongoing investigation, but said others may be involved in her death.

Ms. Wetzel's skeletal remains were found Aug. 5, 2000, by a man walking his dog near the Maumee River in South Toledo.

Like Colvin's other victims, Ms. Wetzel - who also went by the last name Oviedo and was nicknamed "Angel" - was a known prostitute, according to police and court records. And like several of Colvin's other victims, her body had been wrapped in a blanket and discarded in a desolate area.

Yesterday, police again spoke to Colvin, whom they said may have carried the bodies of one or two of his victims with him until they were mummified.

Calling the 47-year-old Colvin "twisted," assistant prosecutor Tim Braun compared him to Jack the Ripper, the notorious killer of at least five prostitutes in the Whitechapel section of London in 1888.

Dorothea Wetzel Dorothea Wetzel
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"It's the same motivation. This is having sex with women you hate. He blames them for having sex for money, but he's paying for them. Then, to feel superior, he kills them," Mr. Braun said, noting letters that Colvin sent to another prostitute while he was in custody.

They are vitriolic and laced with profanity, telling her she is worth nothing, Mr. Braun said.

Investigator Tom Ross, who spent several hours interviewing Colvin late Sunday evening and into Monday morning, agreed: "I think it's a control thing. It's 'I kill because I can.'•"

The cases against Colvin abruptly unfolded Monday during the third day of his trial for the murders of Jackie Simpson, 33, whose body was found April 23, 2003, and Melissa Weber, 37, whose body was found May 9, 2005.

Called to their seats just after lunch, the jury was dismissed as attorneys finalized the deal.

Finally, Colvin stood, admitting one by one to killing Ms. Weber and Ms. Simpson, as well as Lily Summers, 43, whose body was found April 8, 2002; Jacquelynn Thomas, 42, whose body was found Sept. 2, 2000; and Valerie Jones, 38, whose body was found Jan. 6, 2000.

All five Toledo area women had been strangled or smothered - their bodies wrapped in sheets and blankets, and dumped. Several were badly decomposed. Mr. Braun and another assistant prosecutor, J. Christopher Anderson, yesterday said forensics revealed that at least two of the women were dead long before their bodies were discarded.

Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas Osowik gave Colvin five consecutive life sentences, but Colvin's confession allowed him to avoid the death penalty under a plea agreement reached with prosecutors.

Colvin declined to be interviewed by media yesterday unless he was paid, jail personnel said. The Blade does not pay for interviews.

Police had begun to suspect Colvin of a series of murders more than a year ago after one prostitute told police critical details following an attack by Colvin. During the assault, she urinated on the sheets in his cab in order to leave her DNA, the assistant prosecutors said.

"She thought he was going to kill her," Mr. Braun said. "She was going to do everything she could so that if they came looking for her, they'd find something."

Additionally, she memorized details of the truck Colvin drove at the time.

Investigators eventually matched her assailant's DNA with evidence in a string of rapes of local prostitutes and to the murder of Ms. Weber, police said.

A separate trial against Colvin on two rape charges ended in a mistrial in November. In the meantime, police continued to build their murder cases against him. On the second day of the trial Friday, a man described as Colvin's best friend testified that Colvin had asked for cleaning supplies and was in a hotel room where he saw what appeared to be a body covered with a sheet.

"He saw the writing on the wall," said investigator Tom Ross of the prosecutor's office. Colvin was "freaked out" by the prospect of the death penalty, Mr. Ross said.

Family members of the victims have come to terms with Colvin's sentence of life in prison. Judy Simpson, who testified during the first day of his trial, said she was surprised by the plea that saved her daughter's killer from the death penalty.

"I feel that my daughter is gone forever and he'll still be alive," she said, adding that her daughter was not only a good mother to her two children but someone who took care of everyone in her family.

"Maybe [investigators] will be able to find more [victims] and other families will have some closure," she added. "In that case, it's a good thing."

Others could not accept Colvin's negotiated life sentence, including the former prostitute who provided the critical details in her rape. The Blade does not identify the victims of sex crimes.

"I wanted him to get the death penalty," she said Monday after Colvin was led from court in chains. "I didn't get a choice. Those other girls didn't get a choice on whether they lived. Why should he get a choice?"

Defense attorneys and prosecutors negotiated throughout the weekend. Late Sunday, Mr. Ross and Sergeant Forrester met with Colvin and his attorneys.

He began talking about cases in which investigators acknowledged they otherwise had little or no evidence against him.

Ultimately, Colvin gave them the names of the six prostitutes he said he killed, but investigators didn't have enough time to verify his account on Ms. Wetzel's death until yesterday, Sergeant Forrester said.

Contact Robin Erb at:

robinerb@theblade.com

or 419-724-6133.



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