Alton Coleman and Debra Brown
Rap Sheet: Eight murders, seven rapes, three kidnappings, and 14 armed robberies between May and July 1984.
Crime History: When Alton Coleman and Debra Brown met in 1983, Coleman, 28, had already been charged with numerous sex crimes and multiple robberies. Brown, on the other hand, was 21, and had lived a relatively quiet life up until that point; she had experienced severe head trauma as a child and was deemed borderline mentally disabled.
In early 1984, Coleman was indicted for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Illinois and went on the run, bringing Brown along with him. Instead of laying low, the pair went on a six-state crime spree and in just two months were wanted for 20 sexual assaults and eight murders, including four children, earning them a spot on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.
On May 29, the spree began with the kidnapping of Vernita Wheat, the nine-year-old daughter of a woman Coleman had befriended in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The little girl’s body was discovered on June 19, just a few blocks from Coleman’s grandmother’s apartment in Waukegan, Illinois. After "borrowing" a car from another trusting person he had befriended, Coleman and Brown headed to Gary, Indiana, where they kidnapped nine-year-old Annie and seven-year-old Tamika Turks. Tamika’s body was coincidentally found the same day as Wheat's, while Annie had been sexually assaulted by both criminals and survived.
From there they took off across the Midwest; from Michigan to Ohio to Kentucky, the couple burgled homes and killed, usually by strangulation. In Dayton, Ohio, they stayed with a reverend and his wife for a few days; their hosts were never harmed, and in fact drove Brown and Coleman to Cincinnati. But soon 15-year-old Tonnie Storey disappeared on her way to a class at her junior high school; her body was found eight days later – only this time, a conclusive link to the couple was left behind in the form of Coleman’s fingerprint, which would later prove to be essential evidence.
The FBI found the couple in Evanston, Illinois, and they were captured on July 20. By then, the couple had committed murder in six states, and were being pursued by authorities from each; Coleman ultimately received four death sentences across three states – a record number at the time – while Brown was sentenced to death in both Indiana and Ohio, though the latter was commuted to life in prison. Coleman was executed by lethal injection in Ohio in April 2002, while Brown serves out her life sentence in Ohio.