John Eric Armstrong: Psycho Sailor

There’s an old saying that goes “a sailor with a girl in every port.” If the claims of Armstrong are true, he was a sailor that murdered a girl in every port.

in 1992 at the age of 18, John Eric Armstrong joined the US Navy and served the next seven years aboard the aircraft Nimitz. At no time during this time did his shipmates or anyone else notice any mental instability. He had earned four promotions and two Good Conduct medals. He left the Navy in 1999 and settled down in Deaborn Heights, Michigan with his wife. Neighbors thought of him as a solid citizen and a good family man who was devoted to his wife and son. He would even run errands for the blind woman across the street.

Of course under this “good guy” image was a classic harlot-killer. A psycho whose hatred of prostitutes was directly proportional to his needs and urges to have sex with them. He would cruise the Michigan Avenue strip where he would pick up a hooker in his Jeep. As soon as they were done, he would change into a monster yelling how he hated whores and then he would try to strangle the girl.

On January 2nd 2000, the Detroit police received a call from a man who claimed to have found a body floating in the Rouge River. The man explained that he was walking on the bridge and felt that he was going to be sick. While leaning over the edge of the bridge, he saw the body. The dead women turned out to be Wendy Jordan. She was a drug addict and prostitute whose family reported her missing a few days earlier. She had been strangled. The man who called the police was John Eric Armstrong.

The police found his story to be deeply suspicious and put him under surveillance. After collecting DNA and various fibers from the victim, they visited Armstrong at his home and with his consent took fibers from his vehicle and a blood sample. The tests showed definite matches between the victim and samples taken from Armstrong. Prosecutors delayed an arrest warrant until they received the official and final report from the lab.

On the morning of April 10th, three more bodies were found in various stages of decomposition. By that evening a task force was set up and began talking to the hookers in the area. They described a baby faced man who, after sex, would go crazy and attempt to strangle them in the in his Jeep. The police made the connection to Armstrong and April 12th he was arrested. That same day the final results came back from the lab confirming his link to the death of Ms. Jordan.

As soon as he was in custody he broke down and confessed. He said that during his years in the Navy, he had strangled at least 11 prostitutes in various countries. It seemed like that every hooker he had sex with, he tried to kill.

In March 2001, he was put on trial for the murder of Wendy Jordan. His lawyers tried an insanity defense. The jury didn’t fall for it and found him guilty. He was sentenced to life in a state prison.

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~ by B on July 31, 2006.

44 Responses to “John Eric Armstrong: Psycho Sailor”

  1. I was walking home from work one day in 2000. I worked at a store on Michigan Ave. and had to walk down Michigan Ave. to get home. A creepy silent guy in a jeep came to a stop beside me or at cross streets 3 times on my way home one evening. I ran the first time and then screamed at him that I was not a prostitute and that he needed to leave me alone (because prostitutes were common in my area, and usually when I told men I was just walking home from work they would leave me alone) and he finally sped off. I don’t think he ever said a word to me, he just looked really messed up in the head, like overly angry.

  2. I was walking home from work one day in 2000. I worked at a store on Michigan Ave. and had to walk down Michigan Ave. to get home. A creepy silent guy in a jeep came to a stop beside me or at cross streets 3 times on my way home one evening. I ran the first time and then screamed at him that I was not a prostitute and that he needed to leave me alone (because prostitutes were common in my area, and usually when I told men I was just walking home from work they would leave me alone) and he finally sped off. I don’t think he ever said a word to me, he just looked really messed up in the head, like overly angry.

  3. Wow, that is creepy. Who knows, it could’ve been that Armstrong guy. Michelle, I’m glad that you’re alright. I think that its rediculous on how careful we women have to be now a days. I live in Phoenix right now and one night on my way home from work a guy that was driving a Ford Pick-up slowed down and completely cut me off. He then gets out of the truck and on the passenger side facing me and just started walking very close to my shoulder. I clutched onto my keys for the fact that they were going to be my weapon against him since I didn’t have any Pepper Spray. He asked me my name and I didn’t reply. He asked if I spoke English and I didn’t reply. The moment he put his arm around me I sung my arm up and decked him in the mouth and ran to my gated stairway. The gate slamed shut behind me and I could hear the guy speed off yelling and calling me a Dike. At that moment I didn’t care. I was just happy to be home. I think that its some assholes like that are one of the reasons why women turn gay.

    • and to think i served with the guy in the navy i never thought he was like this i pray for the victimes of the familys who are affected

      • I was reading this and wanted to tell you that he killed my mother. I was 11 when she was murdered.

  4. I was stationed on the USS Nimitz from September 1995- May 1998 with this guy, and never heard of any of this until just now. I don’t think I ever met the guy, which isn’t hard to do with 6,000 souls onboard, but it’s still creepy. I pray for the victims and their families. Not knowing what I could’ve done, I wish that I could’ve done something. I was at many of the ports mentioned in this article.

  5. “Opie” as we called him workd for me. I was stationed on the USS Nimitz for just 18 months. I would have never guessed he was able to something like this. He always seemed so timid and would cry at the drop of a hat. We were in drydock the entire time I was on board so I never spent any time with him outside the ship. Its been 7 years and we are still talking about him. Let us not for get Ms.Jordan and the others that he may have killed.

    • He went by Eric. I was my 1st boyfriend. I was 14. He was messed up but no1 new until later. He never would let me brake up w/him. He tried 2 kill himself on my bday n Jan.1989 (I finally got the point across [about braking]when he was n the hospital 4 trying 2 commit suicide) & his 1st kill was Oct 1989. He was a mess when he was young he found his Lil brother died n his crib.
      Sad thing is his wife had a lil boy & was expecting #2 when he was put n jail. I would post pics. On here if I could. Glad he was caught. Sad it was 2 late 4 some.

  6. I was on board the uss nimitz in Opies division I slept in the rack directly across from him for a period of about two years. I worked with him in the barber shop and remember when he was transfered to the ships store. I also remember how happy he was when he was getting out of the NAVY. I havent talked about him since I heard about this. I hung out with him in hong kong and japan never suspecting anything like this. I pray for his family and his children.

  7. I only met Armstrong once. I did work with his wife Katie at the YMCA in Wayne/Westland. One day he came in to either drop off or pick up there son and I shook his hand. Now thinking about it gives me the creeps. I am doing a report on him for my psychology class if anyone has anything they would like to share email me at jestratton@gmail.com Thanks

  8. I was onboard the USS Nimitz when Armstrong first reported and I left in 1994.Everyone I have spoken to who were shipmates have all said the same thing, we all thought he didn’t like girls,ANY GIRLS.During his first WESPAC(deployment) we tried to get him to go out drinking but he refused.He did make it clear his dislike for prostitutes,but we never saw him angry.Really weird knowing that I shared a berthing with this guy.

  9. I was stationed with Opie on the Nimitz as well and worked closely with him. For awhile I was the only woman in the S-3 division and Opie was one of the men that trained me to do my job. There were several times that Opie and I would go out drinking and end up getting a piercing or tattoo. I always felt that he was a close friend and since I’ve found out about this there have been several moments I look back and wonder how the hell I got away with treating him like that and lived. Katie is in my prayers daily as well as his children.

  10. I’d only met him a few times, but that was when I was 7-8 years old. He and his family attended and were married at my church in Redford, Michigan. From the few times I remember seeing him I would never expect something like this to happen. I do know that it has had a dramatic effect on his family. I babysit his children occasionally and they are amazing, but at the mention of their father their mother shuts down. It breaks my heart; not only for the victims and their families but for Armstrong’s family. His son and daughter who never will get the chance to have a father figure. His family and the victim’s family are continually in my prayers.

  11. damn people like him deserve to burn in hell

  12. I went to bootcamp with Opie and then we met again two years later on the Nimitz. He was always the nicest guy to me. I never thought he acted stange and from what I knew of him, I still can’t find anything bad to say. There was times we talked when he seemed a little depressed. That was normal at times though when you’re stuck out on the boat for 6 months. We were supposed to get out of the Navy on the same day and I was going to drive him home from Bremerton, WA to N.C. on my way to VA. He decided to re-enlist. My friend called me a couple of years later to tell me the FBI might be contacting me about Opie. They never did, but to this day I always wonder what might have passed on that drive.

  13. I was actually stationed on the USS NIMITZ with him and in the same division, but He got out the navy a month after I got there. I just remember when he was caught and the people who knew him while he was on the ship were just saying how they can’t believe he could do something like that. It’s creepy to know that you have brushed shoulders with someone like that and how sick he was. Crazy world!!!

  14. i just want to say that i met Mr. Jonh Eric Armstron in 1990’s sometime…..
    He was like my brother,let him in our home and treated him good…
    wen he left the Bremerton,Wa port we were sad to see him and our other shipmate friends of cvn 68 uss nimitz…
    we we heard he did these things we were shocked….
    If he’s out there somewhere we want to say hi to him and his fam and the friends that kno who they r….
    My name is ivan ….he might remember me…i remember him and all the tats he had and how nice he was

    • I remember you Ivan. Eric and I used to go and hang out with you and your family in the early 90’s. not sure if you remember me but i was the tall blonde guy that drove the red pickup truck. if you want email me at xerox1228@gmail.com

  15. I am considering writing a book on someone who has killed. Does anyone think he would talk to me?

  16. I was onboard with Armstrong during this was happening. Iit was a sad thing to here about a shipmate doing such a thing.

  17. I worked with John (who liked to be called Eric) at Target while all of this was going on. I remember the day that he called the police about the dead body. He picked me up for work that day (which he did quite often). He was really shaken up about it. A few days later he said that the police stole his garbage cans. I thought it was the craziest thing that he was a suspect, anyone that knew Eric couldn’t possibly think that he was a killer. I was actually angry for him. I didn’t even think anything about it when the police took his jeep (my ride to work) in for forensic testing. On April 10th I was watching the news and I heard the anchor say that they found the guy that killed those poor women. My first reaction was, “yeah, now they can leave Eric alone.” When I looked up I saw his face on TV. It was the first time I ever felt my legs crumple beneath me, I started crying. It was one of the most horrible days of my life. He was my friend, and he killed people.

    • All my life I was told of a brother I have and his name is Eric. I’ve tried so hard to find him over the years. Finally I came across his story. I too know what you mean about your legs crumbling. Here is a man that is my brother. And he’s a murderer. I wish I had known him before this. Rather than know of him because of it.

  18. i knew Eric and his wife while they were in WA. she really tries not to bring him up at all around her kids

  19. I knew Armstrong during this time. We were on the Nimitz and in S-3 division together. I always thought he was weird and was a crybaby, but to think he was capable of something like this is just unbelievable. i remember when the fbi contacted a few people from the ship, I was terrified. This story still gives me the creeps.

  20. I was onbaord the Nimitz from ’94 to ’97 with Eric. He was a always a great guy. He used to hang with a lot of us on port visits and in fact I still have many photos of all us haning out. I would have never thought of Eric as a serial killer. He never acted in a way that I thought strange. He met his wife Katie on the Nimitz and they always seemed so happy together. After they met, that was pretty much how his time was spent, with her. I hate to hear that all this happened and never knew anything about it until the story broke. I wish the best for Katie and the kids. I can only imagine how awful it is for them to have to go through something like this.

  21. I was onboard the UUS. Nimitz about 4 years with “Opie” and I worked side by side with him in the baber shop. We would have fun and we would have conversations alot. He would complain with Mirgains and that is what we had in common. I know hiw wife real well she’s and angel. I met his family when we came back from cruise before we went to dry dock.Opie was a crier cause he was a caring person. Sometimes he would get stress out with some of our superiors. After a friend of mine called me and say ” armstrong is on the tv he has killed somebody” I am was mortified by this. I was scared and couldnt beleive that he would do that and that is how he feel about women in general. after i read his porfile i was like this not the “Armstong I remember and i pray that he has repented for his crimes and I pray that the victims families find solace in the memory of thier love ones!

  22. I was in Eric’s English class back in 2000 at Schoolcraft College, in Livonia MI. On the first day of class he was sitting at a table and I decided to sit next to him thinking he looks like a cool guy, and as soon as I sit down he got up and sat next to these girls for the rest of class, I thought it was kind of odd but didn’t think to much of it. He didn’t talk much during class and half way through the semester he stopped showing up for a couple weeks, meanwhile Detroit was on edge with a serial killer running loose. The day he was arrested my teacher and classmates was glued to the newspaper in disbelief.

  23. I was stationed with Opie on the Nimitz from 94-97. I think he was on the ship before I got there, but can’t really remember. He was a strange dude, but seemingly reserved and secluded.
    He was a a soft-spoken guy, always bending over backwards to help anyone out. I guess all I have to say is thank God I wasn’t a filthy hooker.

  24. I was on the Nimitz with Opie, he was a cool dude. We would talk and bs. all the time. I worked in S-5 and he was in the barber shop then moved to the ships store. Hell If he needed anything to eat and I needed say some flight deck boots, we would make a deal, or “hook it up”. SH3 Dumont I remember you. Opie and me hungout a lot partly cause I got red hair a freckles too. For a little while some of our shipmates called us the Taylor twins, two opies. . .lol . I didn’t spend much time with him off ship, although I remember going out in Jebl Ali, and abu dabi and Dubai with him. Dude could party.Who would have known he was doing this. I wish he Wife and kids well.

  25. I too was stationed with Opie on the Nimitz. He was a nice guy, worked just as hard as the rest of us. Always had an answer to explain the scratches the neck! AAAHHHH! I do hope Katie and her children are well, and as hard as it may be, I hope they have put this behind them and moved on to better things.

  26. It’s strange reaading all of these. My first ship was the USS Nimitz. I got stationed on it after it arrived in the Newport News Shipyard, and I can’t say it was a pleasant experience. In fact, the best time I had on the ship was the day I walked off the brow and gave the bird to the chief telling me I was going to be sent to the brig for going UA. There are very few pleasant memories I have of that nightmare (yes, I still get nightmares about some the BS that took place on that piece of junk they call a ship), but Eric Armstrong had always been my best memory. Even now, after all these years have passed, I have to wonder if it was a nightmare like everything else there. He was the one who took me under his wing. He taught me how to stand my watch, and how to navigate the ship. He took me around the Hampton Roads area, showing me which places were good places to hang out (all I wanted were bookstores and movie theaters) and which ones to avoid because they weren’t safe. He took me to meet his family and have a home cooked meal with them. I babysat for him and his wife a couple of times so they could have some alone time he said they never got enough of. I learned about this situation when my mother called me up one morning, yelling at me. She said I knew the guy, she just knew I did. When I asked her who she was talking about she said Eric Armstrong. I told her of course I knew who he was, he was about as close to a friend as I had. Her response was of course he was, only her oldest daughter would be friends with a serial killer. Several times she asked me if I was okay, if he had ever hurt me, and I told her every time of course not. Unlike almost every other guy in that hell hole, he was actually a decent person. He fun and happy, and always pleasant to be around. While I was still on the phone to my mother my chief and a couple of NCIS agents knocked on my barracks room in Huntington Hall, had me get off the phone and go back to an office across the street from Huntington Hall with them to meet with an FBI agent. I had never been questioned so intensely about any part of my life, especially my sex life. I don’t know how many ways someone can ask one question, but it seemed they wanted to know if I had ever had sex with Armstrong. Everytime I gave them the same answer: they were crazy. We were friends, his family took me in and watched over me. Finally the FBI agent nodded and said the interview was over-after two hours of being drilled. As I was leaving, the FBI agent said it was a good thing I had never had a sexual relationship with him, that if I had, he would have (more likely than not) killed me as well. Now, eleven years later, I wonder if being stationed on that POS, didn’t have something to do with what happened. I mean, with all the BS that went on, it’s amazing more people weren’t arrested for being a serial killer. God knows I thought more than once there were several people I wanted to just get rid of, and they all worked in my division. All I can do, is thank God-and the Captain-that got me off that piece of rusted metal-when they did, because, only God knows what I would have done had I continued to be stationed there. Now, I’m not saying what Armstrong did was right, it was wrong in so many ways, on so many scales. I do not support killing unless it’s in self-defense or in getting food, nor do I support cheating on one’s spouse, for any reason. I believe in the vows, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until death do you part, which most people now adays seem to make a joke of (and most of the ship crewmembers seemed to make it one of the biggest jokes out there while I was stationed onboard). I feel what Armstrong did was hurtful not only to those he killed and their families- but to his family and friends as well, as well as to himself. But, like I said, could being stationed where he was, with all that was going on taking place, could that have helped push him to do what he did? Could all that BS have possibly been the trigger that led him to do what he did? Because, with everything that was going on when I was there, there is no way it wasn’t going on long before I got there. And, with as much as I wanted to hurt the people I was stuck working with, I can only speculate as to what everything was that was going on with/for him.

    • i dont think that the ships enviornment itself was what caused him to to what he did. Its been years since this happened and i still think about it. knowing that eric and i were friends for the whole time i was on that ship and then finding out what he did still gives me chills to this day. Kym Jones, I dont think it was the ship or the people on the ship that caused how he turned out. Eric was messed up before he went into the navy, we just didnt see the side of him that was. he was a awesome guy like others have stated here in this column and i will never forget him, but on the same note those memories will forever be tainted of what he did.

  27. Reading all these comments from some of my old friends makes me bring up some memories. I too was stationed on the Nimitz with Opie. We got there around the same time but i ended up leaving before him. I liked hanging out with him because he always had a way of talking to you, it just made you feel a bit better. He had that boyish laugh and personality that made you think that he couldn’t hurt a fly. I even had him at my family house sometimes for dinner. But when i was told about what had happend, i just thought that someone was playing a really bad joke. Then i saw it in the papers and reporters were leaving messages asking for interviews. People still ask me questions today about him. I just really hope that his family will get through this. And i do hope that someone can crack the code of WHY he did all this to begin with.

  28. I’m just sitting here reading these posts again (mainly because I saw a new one had been posted) and I still have questions like everyone else on how did this happen? Why would Armstrong do something like this? How could he hurt his family in such a brutal manner? Did his time on the Nimitz have something to do with how he ended up? I can only speculate based on my time there. As I said in my previous post, I still get nightmares from my time onboard the ship. If I have yet to come to grip with what happpened to me there, could his time have been even worse, and pushed him over the edge? While I was on the ship, there were three murders, eleven suicides, and more rapes than any other command. The Nimitz was labeled as the worst ship in the Navy due to the crime and low morale. I still don’t condone what he did by any means, but how much did the ship’s environment play in what happened?

    • His problems started way before then. After our baby brother died from sids. Eric blamed our dad because dad got home late from work. Fed the baby and put him back to bed. The next morning he was dead. The official cause of death was ruled as SIDS. Dads wife and Eric blamed dad from then on. She started cheating. Then dad left. She met a new man that was a creep and a pervert. They say Eric had daddy issues. But I think it was more step dad and horrible mom issues. Eric was messed up from a very young age from what I understand and have been told. I think his time on such a bad ship just let out his demons that were already there. Now understand, I’ve never known my brother Eric. But I’ve asked and researched about him everywhere. These are always the same stories I’m told.

  29. I went to middle school with John “Eric” Armstrong. Used to cut up with him in the lunch lines. I remember him saying silly things like “My name is Armstrong because I have strong arms.” He wasn’t such a bad guy, and I don’t really remember him getting picked on as much as was claimed. Its a real shame to hear all of this, and a complete shock that he would do such terrible things. I have lost a loved one who was violently raped and murdered. In fact, she, too, went to school with Eric. (Cases are unrelated) Although time heals, it never answers the questions we all have.

  30. My ex-husband was stationed on the Nimitz and i got to know alot of the people in the SH division and Opie was one. I remember we use to bowl together and I was pregnant with my first child and he would always feel my stomach and ask how everything is going. WOW I still can’t believe this it is crazy and I will be tuning in for the show on Sept. 6th.

  31. I was stationed on the NIMITZ with him from ’94 to ’98. Since I worked in AIMD (different department) and never got my hair cut in the ship’s barber shop, I never really knew him. Given the way many people describe him, it’s not surprising that he could be capable of the things he did. You know, they say that the secluded, nice and quiet ones are the worst. On the inside, he was probably very suppressed and implosive…but everyone around him will say, “He’s such a nice guy.” Sentiments and prayers go out to Katie and her kids.

  32. So all my life I was told that I had another half brother. His name was Eric and he was in the navy. That’s all I knew. Now finally, many years later. I find him. The psycho sailor… What a surprise this is. I’ve read all the stories and some of the comments. I read in the stories that he blamed his father for the death of his brother. It was sids that took that baby, my brother. Autopsy supported it too. Then he said he was sexually abused by his father. I’ve been around the same man all my life. He’s never done anything like that. This person, who I’m sad to say is my half brother murdered female prostitutes. Not male, female. I do know his mother couldn’t be faithful to anyone at anytime. Sounds like he had mommy issues he’s blaming on a father that was never there. Her cheating was the reason dad left. I’ve prayed for the families and the souls of the poor women he killed. It truly is very sad. I’m not sure what to think about all this still. Glad I finally found him. But disgusted at what he is. Wow…..

    • I was Eric’s girlfriend when I was 14. We went 2 the same church. He always said his dad left got remarried & called his new sin John Eric. I always thought that was crazy. I have tons of pics of him from that time. It would b neat 2 c if u guys look anything alike. email me if u want. lizaj74@yahoo.com

  33. I served on the USS Nimitz in the early part of 1997 to Nov. 2000 in G-3 Weapons department. I did not know about John Armstrong until after a couple of years of being out. Die you S.O.B. you don’t deserve to live after what you had done.

  34. Hello, Armstrong killed my sister in law. she was the first victim he dumped at the railroad tracks. She left behind 3 kids, till this day they miss there mother. She had a drug addiction, and she knew what she was doing was wrong, she was trying to get help. Armstrong took all that away from her and he took her away from her kids.

    • I can’t say I’m sorry to you and those children enough. I’ve never known him. Just known of him. I wish it never had happened. He makes me sick knowing he’s my half brother. I wish there was something I could do or say to make everything ok again. I’m truly sorry and saddened by for what he has done. I pray for peace, love, and hope for us all.

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