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Murder spree by Debra Brown and Alton Coleman spotlighted on Dead Silent

Debra Brown (L) and Alton Coleman (R) murdered and raped their way across numerous states. Pic Credits: Family photos/FBI Most Wanted Archive

Debra Brown and Alton Coleman went on a violent and sickening rampage of rape and murder that lasted seven weeks. Dead Silent on Investigation Discovery examines their shocking crimes.

It was in 1983 that 21-year-old Debra Brown first encountered Alton Coleman. She became enamoured with Coleman and their relationship is said to have developed into one of a master and slave.

She soon abandoned her engagement and took her children to live with Coleman.

The pair then embarked on remarkably brutal crime spree that involved, murder, rape, torture and robbery. They managed to kill eight people during their violent crime spree and shattered the lives of many more.

Brown came from a large family and was one of 11 children. As a youngster she’d suffered a serious head trauma and has been described as being borderline mentally disabled.

The pair’s crime spree started on May 29, 1984, when they abducted 9-year-old Vernita Wheat from her home in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Her body was found about three weeks later in Waukegan. An examination determined she’d been raped and then strangled to death.

By June, Coleman and Brown had travelled to Gary, Indiana, and it was there that they abducted 7-year-old Tamika Turks and her 9-year-old aunt Annie. The couple took turns sexually assaulting the girls and then murdered Tamika.

Annie survived with some terrible internal injuries from the sexual assault and Tamika’s body was discovered on June 19. That same day 25-year-old Donna Williams, also from Gary, went missing.

Williams body was found on July 11, in an advanced state of decomposition. The autopsy revealed she too had been raped and strangled to death.

Meantime the couple had continued their rampage and on June 28 they beat and robbed Mr. and Mr. Palmer Jones. Going to on to steal all their cash and their vehicle.

July saw the deadly couple arrive in Toledo, Ohio, where they murdered Virginia Temple and her 9-year-old daughter. Following their pattern of crime, they also went on to rob another couple. In this case it was Dorothy and Frank Duvendack, who were bound before being robbed of their money and car.

A week later on July 12, 15-year-old Tonnie Storey went missing from Over-the-Rhine, in Cincinnati. Her body was found just over a week later, she’d been raped and murdered.

By this time law enforcement were hot on the trail of Coleman and Brown, with the latter being added to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List as a ‘special addition.’

This notoriety did not stop the pair from entering the home of the Walters family. Pretending to be interested in a camper that husband Harry had for sale the couple attacked him and his wife, Marlene. Harry was struck over the head with a candlestick, rendering him mercifully unconscious.

His wife Marlene, 45, was less lucky and she was raped and then had her head face repeatedly bashed with various blunt objects and a pair of pliers. Harry survived the attack, but Marlene was beaten so badly that parts of her skull and brain were missing.

A few days later police found the Walters’ Plymouth Reliant car in Kentucky. Here the pair had abducted college professor Oline Carmical Jr. and locked him in the trunk of his own car. They drove him from Williamsburg to Dayton, Ohio, where they abandoned the vehicle.

Carmical’s car was found by law enforcement officers and he was discovered alive in the trunk.

Brown and Coleman then stole a car from Reverend Gay and his wife, though they decided not to kill them and the Gays recognised them from the manhunt that was underway.

Their final victim was 75-year-old Eugene Scott, whom they murdered for his car.

On July 20 the couple were in Evanston, Illinois, when a man recognised them as they waled across the street. He informed local police and the pair were arrested without a struggle.

The couple were charged with numerous serious crimes including rape, murder and kidnapping across state lines.

Both were convicted and the Ohio court sentenced them both to death, with further sentences from other states following.

Coleman exhausted his appeals in 2002 and April 26 he was executed by lethal injection age 50. So many of the victim’s relatives wanted to witness his execution that CCTV had to be setup.

In 1991 Brown had her death sentenced commuted to life, with Governor Richard Celeste making the decision just before he left office. He gave the dominating role Coleman played in the relationship and Brown’s very low IQ as the reasons behind his leniency.

In 2005 Brown made a video in which she apologised to her victims.

Dead Silent airs at 9 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.

James has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact... read more
James Wray


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