Walter E. Ellis

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Walter E. Ellis
Walter E. Ellis.jpg
Born(1960-06-24)June 24, 1960
DiedDecember 1, 2013(2013-12-01) (aged 53)
Other namesThe Milwaukee North Side Strangler
Criminal penaltySeven consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole
Span of crimes
October 10, 1986–April 27, 2007
CountryUnited States
Date apprehended
September 7, 2009

Walter E. Ellis (June 24, 1960 – December 1, 2013), also known as the Milwaukee North Side Strangler, was an American serial killer who raped and strangled seven women in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin between 1986 and 2007.[1]


The North Side Strangler victims were all African-American women. Milwaukee Police Department Homicide Detective Steven Spingola authored an e-magazine article, The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee's North Side Strangler, which chronicled his investigation of the homicides of Sheila Farrior and Florence McCormick.[2] Trained in criminal background analysis, Spingola provided a detailed profile of the killer, which Milwaukee talk-radio host and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Wagner described as "eerily accurate."[3] Spingola, however, retired before Detectives Gilbert Hernandez and Kathy Hein of the Milwaukee Police Department's cold case homicide unit, reexamined DNA evidence that linked a suspect to the homicides.[4][5]

On September 7, 2009, Walter E. Ellis (then aged 49), was arrested on suspicion of being the notorious serial killer. Ellis had been arrested 12 times between 1981 and 1998, when he was sentenced to five years for reckless endangerment.[6]

Initially represented by Attorney Russell Jones in defense of these claims, Ellis pleaded not guilty, and stood prepared to defend himself. Jones was withdrawn from the case, and then on February 18, 2011, Ellis pleaded no contest to seven murders or intentional homicides, and was convicted despite not admitting his guilt. On February 24, 2011, he was given seven life sentences, to be served consecutively, without the possibility of parole.[7] After he was convicted, he was initially held at the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin, for Assessment and Evaluation in accordance with the Wisconsin Administrative Code, from where he was transferred to the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility in Boscobel, Wisconsin. In November 2011, Ellis was transferred to the maximum custody unit at the South Dakota State Penitentiary.[8]

The use of the name "North Side Strangler" in reference to the case has been limited to one local news organization, WTMJ, Channel 4, which is believed to have coined the nickname,[9] although it has been picked up by some bloggers and by British media as well. Use of the nickname, however, has also been a subject of criticism in other Milwaukee media.[10][11]


Ellis died at a Sioux Falls, South Dakota hospital on December 1, 2013 from apparent natural causes, according to a South Dakota Department of Corrections news release.[12]


  1. ^ Profile,; accessed April 21, 2015.
  2. ^ "BWS Books". Badger Wordsmith. 2001-09-11. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  3. ^ Wagner, Jeff. "Portrait Of A Milwaukee Serial Killer". 620 WTMJ. Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  4. ^ "Amended Criminal Complaint" (PDF). 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2013-04-26.
  5. ^ "Five New Charges Filed in North Side Strangler Case". 2012-07-27. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  6. ^ Leamanczyk, Lauren (1986-10-10). "Relief For Families of Strangler Victims". Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  7. ^ Vielmetti, Bruce (2011-02-24). "Ellis gets life - 7 times over". JSOnline. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  8. ^ Vielmetti, Bruce (2011-11-28). "Serial killer Walter Ellis staying connected in South Dakota". JSOnline. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  9. ^ Milwaukee Magazine, Pressroom column, August 2009
  10. ^ Kane, Eugene (2009-09-09). "Nickname aggravates family grief". JSOnline. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  11. ^ "So We're Calling Him the "North Side Strangler" Now?". The Chief. 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
  12. ^ State Prison Inmate Dies,; December 1, 2013; accessed April 21m 2015. Archived December 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine