Nancy Ludwig was found nearly decapitated and viciously r*ped in a Detroit hotel room in 1991 (Image via IMDb)

5 chilling details about Nancy Ludwig's murder

The decades-old killing of Minessota flight attendant Nancy Ludwig features on ID's The Lake Erie Murders this Wednesday, March 22, at 7:00 pm ET, in an episode titled Heartbreak Hotel.

The synopsis for the upcoming episode reads as:

"Beautiful Northwestern Airlines flight attendant Nancy Ludwig is discovered dead in her hotel room, her body mutilated and head almost decapitated; it will take the discovery of links to another heinous killing to blow the case wide open."
@DiscoveryID On tonight’s show the Nancy Ludwig horrific murder. How could the murderer’s wife not have seen all those boxes of women’s underwear in their attic??

Ludwig, 41, was found brutally stabbed, r*ped, and nearly decapitated in a Romulus hotel near the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Although there was sufficient evidence present at the crime scene, including the killer's semen, along with witness accounts of a potential suspect, the case hit a wall and went cold for over a decade.

The case was solved in 2001 when a set of fingerprints collected from a separate murder case was used to find Nancy Ludwig's killer and also connect both the killings that occurred five years apart. The case concluded with the conviction of a Michigan man named Jeffrey Wayne Gorton.

Disclaimer: This article contains graphic description of a very violent incident, proceeding with discretion is advised.


Nancy Ludwig's murder: Five key facts to know about the killing of the flight attendant in Michigan

1) Ludwig's body was found in a hotel room near the Detroit airport by the housekeeping staff

On February 17, 1991, Nancy Ludwig, a Minnesota resident, was murdered at what was then known as the Hilton Airport Inn in Romulus, close to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The victim had checked herself into the hotel sometime around 9:00 in the night and was staying in room number 354. The following day, the housekeeping staff discovered her dead body in a horrifying crime scene.


2) The victim had been r*ped twice and nearly decapitated

According to reports, Nancy Ludwig's head was nearly severed from the body, with her throat completely slashed from one ear to the other, her hands tied at the back, along with being stabbed multiple times.

Further, additional examinations revealed that she sustained multiple defensive wounds to her hands and minor cuts to her face and upper torso, which suggested she was tortured before the killing. A subsequent autopsy also declared that the 41-year-old was also violently r*ped twice -- once before she was killed and a second time after she had died.


3) A blood-soaked cloth and semen were collected from Nancy Ludwig's crime scene

Nancy Ludwig, a 41-year-old flight attendant was found dead in a Detroit hotel room (Image via Guy Breau's SPACE)

Ludwig's dead body as well as the crime scene suggested that the killer had tried to clean up after the murder and while fleeing the scene, took the victim's belongings, including her clothing, jewelry, ID, and luggage, along with him. Only the blood-soaked washcloth, which he likely used to wipe the victim's body, was left behind, wadded up in the bathroom sink.

4) A set of fingerprints from a separate murder case helped solve the flight attendant's murder

During the initial stages of the murder investigation, witnesses claimed to have stumbled upon or spotted a potential suspect, but no arrests were made at the time. After a few failed leads, the case went cold until 2001, when authorities used fingerprints from a separate 1986 murder case to make possible connections, which produced conclusive results.

A Flint-based provost and professor named Margarette Eby, 55, was found brutally r*ped and murdered in her house in November 1986, five years before Nancy Ludwig's horrific murder. Although both cases remained unsolved, officials discovered a potential lead in 2001 when they found that the fingerprint collected from Eby's crime scene matched that of Jeffrey Wayne Gorton.


5) Gorton's DNA matchs to samples collected from both Ludwig and Eby's crime scenes

Jeffrey Wayne Gorton was convicted in the case of Nancy Ludwig (Image via Offender Tracking Information System)

Jeffrey Wayne Gorton, who held a reputation for stealing women's underwear and a criminal history for being a repeat offender, who even spent time in prison in the 80s, was linked to the murders of Nancy Ludwig and Margarette Eby when his DNA matched the samples collected from their respective crime scenes.

Gorton was convicted of first-degree murder and criminal s*xual conduct in connection with Ludwig's murder in September 2002. The following January, he entered a no-contest plea in Eby's killing and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Edited by
Abhipsa Choudhury
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