Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Eric Armstrong: The Model Sailor

Police Close In

Dearborn Heights February 2000

There was some physical evidence available to investigators working on the Jordan homicide. They had what was presumably the killers DNA and the medical examiners office had found tiny fibers on Jordans clothes that probably came from a vehicle she had been in shortly before she was dumped in the river. Tests were in the works to try to identify which type of vehicle, but without something to match them to, identifying a suspect would be difficult.

On the theoretical side, investigators instincts continued to point them in Armstrongs direction. He didnt look like a killer, sure, but that didnt mean anything. There were just a number of things in his past that looked suspicious.

"Take that last run-in with the police," one detective said as he and his partner were revisiting the Rouge River crime scene one more time.

The Dearborn Heights police had run a computer check on Armstrong and found out that he had been investigated for filing a false police report in Novi.

Novi police told them Armstrong had placed a 911 call from his job as a security guard in early November to report that he had been attacked while breaking up a robbery. Investigating officers found Armstrong bleeding from superficial wounds to the face and arms. The officers immediately suspected something was amiss, and it didnt take Armstrong long to admit he had cut himself with a scalpel and fabricated the whole story.

Apparently he just wanted to attract attention to himself; something sensational, which seems to be part of his make-up, said Novi Police Chief Doug Shaefer.

The fake report cost Armstrong his job.

Investigators paid a visit to Armstrong at home and he consented to allow them to gather fibers from his car and to give them a blood sample.

The officers quickly shipped the samples off to the State Police crime labs in Lansing, Michigan and waited for the results. Armstrong wasnt going anywhere, they theorized and at that time, authorities had no reason to believe he was involved in anything other than Jordans murder. What they didnt know was that Monica Johnson of Detroit, the 31-year-old prostitute whom police found unconscious and barely alive near Interstate 94, had also been intimate with Armstrong. Johnson, a mother of four, would die at Ford Hospital in Detroit before talking to authorities.

And what they could never predict was that their diligence in seeking more evidence, their quest to build a strong case, would give Armstrong time to kill again.

Armstrongs neighbors, who had known him as a quiet, unassuming man for almost a year, had no reason to suspect anything was amiss.

Armstrong's House (THE DAILY NEWS)
Armstrong's House
(THE DAILY NEWS)

The police had been to the small two-story bungalow that Armstrong, his wife and son shared with some in-laws, but the neighbors just assumed that was because Eric had been unfortunate enough to stumble across Jordans body.

He told me he felt the police were harassing him, one neighbor told the Detroit News. But none of us suspected anything.

 

 

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