Several of history's most notorious serial killers often preyed on prostitutes, including Jack the Ripper, whose identity has never been established, and most recently Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, though among Ridgway's 48 victims there were also women who were not prostitutes.
The first of the four killings that police believe are linked occurred in August 2001 and the last happened in November 2002.
Shortly after that, local media reported on the murders and the possibility there was a serial killer. Since then, though there have been other homicides in the area, police believe the serial killer has not struck again.
"We believe he may have stopped because of the publicity," Godbold said. "That could tell me that this individual is waiting until the publicity dies down."
If the publicity did put an end to the killer's spree, the most recent publicity generated has had another positive effect, according to Wyche, Tinsley-Hardman and Craig Yaldoo, the president of the Alliance for a Safe Greater Detroit.
Yaldoo declined to say how many calls have come in to the group's crime hotline, 1-800-SPEAK-UP, but he said the response has been overwhelming. Godbold agreed that some of the tips that have been passed on to police are producing leads.
"There is an irony in this, in that it really has mobilized the community," Yaldoo said. "People have really responded to the fact that somebody is preying on these defenseless women who walked a very difficult road in life."
Although some of the response from the public has been to criticize police for not having solved these murders, Tinsley-Hardman, who has met with investigators, said she believes the cops were getting a bad rap.
"The police department really understands that these women are family members of our community," she said. "I can't understand why they chose that lifestyle, but we can't let their deaths be forgotten and we can't let the perpetrators get away with this."
Goldbold said he and the other investigators working the case feel the same way.
"I understand the frustration," he said. "But I think the public has the false impression from watching these crime shows that a crime is solved in an hour because of the technolgy available. That's not how it happens."