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Case Of Man Accused Of 6 Slayings Going To Grand Jury

November 30, 1986

ATLANTA (AP) _ Authorities credit ″good, old-fashioned police work″ for the arrest last week of a man who is charged with the shooting and stabbing murders of six men described as street hustlers.

The case against Michael Terry, who is being held without bond, is expected to go to the grand jury this week. Fulton County District Attorney Lewis Slaton said Saturday he had not decided whether to seek the death penalty against Terry, who is charged with six counts of murder.

Police announced Friday that he had been arrested Wednesday.

The victims, who were between the ages of 20 and 31, were street hustlers who took money for sex, and Terry, 26, had been a customer, said homicide Lt. Horace Walker.

Police say they still are not sure of the motive in the killings. Authorities have not termed the slayings homosexual-related, and say the victims hustled to make money and did not consider themselves homosexuals. ″Most of them had girlfriends,″ Walker said.

Terry’s arrest came after several months of investigation of what first appeared to be unrelated killings dating to December 1985. Police say a pattern became apparent after the most recent victim was found Oct. 20.

Detectives Sheila Cumberworth and Marcellus Head each had been assigned one of the killings by the homicide task force and began working together on all six after the pattern was noticed.

The clue that led them to Terry was a witness who linked the suspect to a boarding house where the bodies of two slaying victims were discovered.

″We got the name (of the suspect) and a photograph and we had two victims in the backyard at the rooming house, and that was too much of a coincidence,″ said Head.

For the most part, investigating meant long hours of reading case files, backtracking crime scenes and talking to anyone who might know the victims or the suspect, the two officers said.

Their work days included 12-hour shifts together.

It was Head who arrested Terry, while Ms. Cumberworth executed a search warrant on the boarding house.

Walker, announcing the arrest, said, ″It was good, old-fashioned police work″ that broke the case.

Neighbors and co-workers described Terry, who moved to Atlanta several years ago from Tallassee, Ala., as a quiet man who usually kept to himself, though he often carried a gun.

″This is still hard for me to believe because he was too easygoing,″ said Gus Jones, a neighbor who described Terry as a drinking buddy. ″You could have had anything he had. If nobody bothered him he didn’t bother nobody.″

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