Twenty years ago, Eugene Britt committed numerous crimes against women within a few months.
He also confessed to the rape of an 8-year-old girl from Portage and the murder of Betty Askey, 50, Michele Burns, 27 and Deborah McHenry, 41, although he was only convicted of the rape and murder of the child.
Britt was 37 when he confessed to the killings and rapes in November of 1995.
The murders that Britt was eventually convicted of were Nakita Moore, 14, Tonya Dunlap, 24, Maxine Walker, 41, and the rape of a 13-year-old Gary girl. Though Britt strangled to death most of the women after he raped them -- sometimes multiple times -- there was one survivor that lived to provide evidence against him.
Britt first saw the girl walking on Clay Street in Gary, May 9, 1995. The attacker grabbed her from behind, threw her to the ground and choked her until she lost consciousness.
After raping her, he went through her purse and told her he had her address book and photos. He told the girl that he would remember her face and if he ever heard anything about the rape, he would kill her.
Then he instructed her to count to 50 and walked away towards I-80/94. The girl told her mother what happened when she got home and was taken to the hospital. Britt’s DNA matched samples that were collected from the victim. Although, he was not caught until after he raped and killed Tonya Dunlap in July of that year.
Britt was serving a sentence of life without parole plus 100 years for the rape and murder of Sarah Paulsen, the 8-year-old Portage girl, when he entered into a plea agreement of guilty but mentally ill.
Britt’s hands and feet were visibly shaking and he was in a wheelchair during his plea agreement hearing October 7, 2006. He cried and called out to the courtroom, “I'm sorry, man, I'm sorry,” as prosecutors read out details of the vicious assaults and his victims’ pleas for mercy.
Lake County Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez asked if Britt was all right and called for medics who waited in the gallery until the two-hour proceeding was over.
Judge Salvador sentenced Britt to 245 years in prison on Nov. 3, 2006.