Mom of suspected Detroit serial killer writes letter from behind bars

Chantrienes Barker serving life in prison for 1998 kidnapping, murder

By Shawn Ley - Reporter, Dane Sager Kelly - Web Producer

DETROIT - The mother of Deangelo Martin, the man police suspect is connected to the Detroit serial killer case, is thanking a man who took care of her son when she was unable to do so.

RELATED: Detroit serial killer investigation: What we know about the search for victims

It is a letter that came out of the blue.

Chantrienes Barker is currently serving life in prison for a 1998 kidnapping and murder. Martin was 14 years old when she was taken into custody. In a letter, she claims Joe Hicks helped take care of Martin.

"Deangelo Martin is my son," the letter reads. "I am writing to say thank you so much for helping my son when he was out there."

Joe Hicks founded Brother Joe's Youth and Street Ministry about 40 years ago. Through the homeless outreach program, Hicks looked after Martin for years. 

"May God bless you for all you have done for him," the letter said.

Martin is under investigation on suspicion of attacking, raping and killing at least three women. Police believe there may be more victims. 


  • Nancy Harrison - Body discovered March 19 on Coventry Street -- she is considered the first victim.
  • Travesene Ellis - Body discovered May 24 on Linnhurst Street -- she is considered the second victim.
  • Tamara M. Jones, who was found in a vacant house on Mack Avenue on June 5.
  • Anyone with information should contact police at 313-596-2260.

Investigation continues

  • Deborah Reynolds was last seen with Martin in August. Human remains were discovered  Dec. 22, 2018, inside an abandoned home, and police are awaiting DNA tests to confirm if the remains belong to Reynolds. Read more here.
  • Police are investigating to determine if the death of Annetta Nelson is connected to the serial killings. The 58-year-old mother of two was found dead on Detroit's west side. Read more here.
  • Police are investigating the death of Yvonne Cobern, who was found at a vacant home on Brentwood Street wrapped in carpet.


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