Man facing murder charges in 2016 case linked to death of second woman on Monday

Posted at 4:36 PM, Jun 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-04 21:10:59-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A Detroit man who is suspected in a 2016 stabbing death of a woman has been linked to the murder of another woman found burned at a vacant house on Greenview near Seven Mile Road early Monday morning.

The victim found Monday is Lorenda Cruell, known as "Ree Ree" to family and friends. They said she died from blunt force trauma and had been burned.

"He told his cousin he made a mistake and had to get out of town," said Makeba Cruell, Lorenda's sister who also told 7 Action News that Gilstrap has a history of abusing her sister.

Lorenda Cruell and Herman Gilstrap dated off and on for several years.

Hours after Cruell's body was found, Detroit Police located Gilstrap and arrested him for the 2016 murder of Linda Lee Jackson.

Jackson was 54-years-old when she was found stabbed to death on Grand River Avenue near Woodside Street in Detroit, and the warrant in her murder was just authorized a week and a half ago.

Detroit Police had been actively searching for Gilstrap so he could face a judge in the 2016 case when the body of Lorenda Cruell was found.

Detroit Police have not named Gilstrap as a suspect in Cruell's murder, but her relatives say they've been told by police that he is the suspect.

A spokesperson for Detroit Police will only say they have a person of interest in the murder of Lorenda Cruell.

Cruell's body was found Monday across the street from a house where some of Gilstrap's relatives live and he'd been staying for the last two weeks, according to others who live at the same house. They also tell 7 Action News that Gilstrap was at the house early Monday and left just after the fire.

On Tuesday, Gilstrap was arraigned on a charge of Open Murder in the 2016 killing of Linda Jackson. Her daughter, Deyona Jackson, said she and relatives have no idea who Gilstrap is or why he allegedly targeted her mother three years ago.

"I wouldn't wish this pain on my enemy," Deyona told 7 Action News.

Gilstrap has spent many years in prison for crimes that include rape, armed robbery and assault. He was released from prison in 2016. He's also listed as a non-compliant sex offender.

Gilstrap is now being held without bond.

Linda Jackson left behind five children and four grandchildren.

Lorenda Cruell leaves behind four children ages 9 to 14.

A GoFundMe page has been made for Lorenda "ReeRee" Cruell. Click here to donate.

Action News asked a spokesperson for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office why it took three years for a warrant in the murder of Linda Jackson and they replied with the following statement:

The case was presented to us as a NIC (not in custody) warrant on April 23, 2019 for a homicide that occurred on 6/3/2016 at 9692 Grand River. It was returned twice for further work to be done on the case so that we could charge the case. It was returned on May 7, 2019 and for a second time on May 13, 2019. It was signed on May 24, 2019. It is alleged that the defendant stabbed the 54 year old female victim from Detroit multiple times causing her death.

The spokesperson said they could not comment on any possible DNA evidence.

Stay with 7 Action News for the latest developments in these cases.