The Lake Erie Murders examines the case of four Michigan teenage girls who went missing between September 1991 and early January 1992. The perpetrator was long-time criminal Leslie Allen Williams, and he was on a serial killing rampage.
September 1991 sisters Michelle and Melissa Urbin, who were 14 and 16 years old, were walking on a quiet rural road northwest of Detroit when they were raped and murdered. A third victim, 18-year-old Kami Marie Villaneuva, also vanished around that time.
Cynthia Jones, 16, was another victim who went missing not far from the Urbin sisters in January 1992.
Williams was arrested in May 1992. On his arrest, officers discovered a woman locked in the trunk of his car. He had just abducted the woman from a nearby cemetery where she’d been visiting her mother’s grave. He was immediately charged with attempted murder, attempted rape, and kidnapping of the woman.
After he was arrested, he told reporters that he should be “locked up,” leaving investigators wondering if he was guilty of further crimes.
Leslie Williams confesses to murder
After the discovery of Villanueva’s remains in May in a field 35 miles from Detroit, police learned from friends of Williams that he often frequented the area. Investigators confronted Williams with this discovery, at which point, he confessed to the killing.
Williams also admitted to police that he had killed Jones and the Urbin sisters; he then led authorities to the location of their remains.
The case provoked controversy over the Michigan justice system as Williams had been in and out of prison for the previous 20 years. He had received numerous charges of breaking and entering, assault, and rape dating back to 1971.
He had been sentenced in 1983 for threatening and abducting a woman and served only 7-years before being released in 1990. The father of the Urbin sisters, Patrick Urbin, said, “the system has failed us by letting this person out early.”
Williams is currently in prison, where he will remain for the rest of his life.
More from The Lake Erie Murders
Follow the links to read about other crimes from The Lake Erie Murders, such as the horrible killing of 11-year-old Shauna Howe. Her murder transformed a quiet community and lay unsolved for 12 years before two brothers were finally brought to justice.
There’s also the case of Joan Giambra, a mother of three, who was founded strangled in her home in Buffalo, New York, in 1993. The perpetrator was Dennis Donahue, who had briefly dated Giambra.
Follow this case on The Lake Erie Murders at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.