Survivors have described their assailant as a muscular, young white man, and all but one of the 13 victims was black, Flint Police Lt. T.P. Johnson told The Associated Press Friday. Flint is a predominantly black city, and investigators are unsure if the suspect was targeting blacks or whether the victims were chosen at random.
The victims were all outside alone at night. Survivors have said the attacker approached them under the pretense of needing directions or help with a broken down vehicle.
"He then pulls a knife and attacks them without saying anything more," Johnson said.
"A knife is a very personal weapon. To stab somebody repeatedly, there has to be some rage going on," he said.
Detectives have been investigating the attacks since they started, but a pattern only became apparent on Tuesday, a day after 49-year-old Arnold Minor was found slain along a Flint street, Johnson said. That led to the announcement that a serial killer might be on the prowl in the working class city ravaged by economic turmoil, budget problems and police layoffs.
Michigan State Police are leading a task force investigating the attacks. Ten have been in Flint, about 50 miles northwest of Detroit. Three others were in nearby communities.
On July 30, the body of 60-year-old Frank Kellybrew was found not far from the Flint Township motel he had called home for about 10 months.
The manager of Hometown Inn said Kellybrew had walked to the other side of Interstate 75 to buy some things from a gas station. The next morning his body was found by sanitation workers corralling trash barrels near a restaurant.
Kellybrew didn't stand out any more than the other tenants at the motel, which rents quite a few rooms on a month-to-month basis, manager John Henson said Friday.
He liked watching television in the motel lobby or having a cup or two of coffee.
"He was a nice guy; kept to himself," Henson said. "If he didn't know you, he would just avoid you and have nothing to do with you."
In his short time at the inn, Kellybrew enjoyed walking over at night, after business hours, to the restaurant near the freeway.
"He would sit on the bench at night," Henson said. "He'd just go over there, and sit and relax. It's pretty quiet over here at night when everything closes."