Understanding Detroit's Most Prolific Serial Killer: Shelly Andre Brooks

Jessica Powers

One of the most prolific serial killers in Michigan history could have continued his deadly spree if it hadn't been for a woman who survived her brush with him and helped put him behind bars.

Shelly Andre Brooks, now 53, is serving life in prison in Michigan for murdering at least seven women in Detroit between 2001 and 2006. The women he targeted were prostitutes who often struggled with drug addiction as well. Officials say he may be responsible for other unsolved murders in the city.

A Life On The Streets Leads To Murder

Shelly Brooks were lure women to abandoned buildings.
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Brooks started his killing spree at the age of 32, targeting female prostitutes or homeless drug addicts who were the most vulnerable. He used their weaknesses to gain their trust since he had experience out on the streets as well.

After luring the women to abandoned buildings on the city's east side, Brooks would sexually assault them before beating them to death with rocks, sticks, and other items. He then left the naked bodies in the abandoned buildings where the attacks took place. All of the women were black and between the ages of 30 and 54.

A Survivor Comes Forward, Ending The Murder Spree

Brooks's killing spree finally came to a halt in June of 2006, when he was arrested for sexually assaulting and beating a woman who survived the attack. He was arrested, and his DNA was put into a database to see if he had any ties to other unsolved cases.

Police got a hit soon after, and the truth started to come out about Brooks and the murders he was responsible for.

The Victims Of Shelly Brooks

Shelly Brooks had at least seven victims.
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Brooks's known victims include: 54-year-old Sandra Davis in August 2001; 33-year-old Pamela Greer in January 2002; 36-year-old Marion Daniels in April 2002; 45-year-old

Rhonda Myles in April 2002; 30-year-old Thelma Johnson in November 2002; 38-year-old

Melissa Toston in October 2005; and an unidentified woman in June 2006.

Several Cases Go To Trial

Shelly Brooks is serving life in prison.
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When confronted by police, Brooks eventually confessed to some of the killings, even linking himself to several that police didn't know about.

Armed with DNA evidence and a confession from Brooks, prosecutors put him on trial in 2007.

In the first criminal case, Brooks was quickly convicted in the beating death of Pamela Greer.

Just a week later, he had a second trial, where he was convicted of murder in the beating death of Rhonda Myles. With those two cases, Brooks's fate was sealed and he would serve out the rest of his life behind bars.

Brooks Sentenced To Life Behind Bars

Shelly Brooks is serving life in prison.
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According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, Brooks is serving a life sentence at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility.

He is serving time for the charges of criminal sexual conduct, assault with intent to commit murder, and two counts of first-degree murder.

No one can say for sure what drove Brooks to kill. He grew up mostly living with his maternal grandmother and eventually dropped out of high school in the 11th grade. He also had some early brushes with the law, when he was found carrying a concealed gun.

He served 60 days in jail and then began a life on the streets. He was homeless for more than a decade and got by on various jobs, such as in restaurants.

Brooks's mother, who died before he committed his crimes, was a drug addict who reportedly abused him as a child.

Experts who have studied Brooks said he's more disorganized than many of the more famous serial killers. He made no efforts to hide the bodies and didn't appear to take any "trophies" from the murders, which are often a hallmark of such criminals.