Willie Steele, already convicted of raping a killing a woman in 1984, is now accused of strangling two women to death in their Gary home.
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay and the Gary Police Department are urging citizens to stand together against criminals causing a surge of violence in their neighborhoods.
After announcing murder charges against Willie Lee Steele, 42, in the recent strangling deaths of Lillie and Doressa Miller, officials said cooperation between police and residents is key to bringing people like Steele to justice.
Deputy Police Chief Gary Carter emphasized that point when he held his hand in the air, open-palmed.
"When you stick together," Carter said, closing his fist, "you can do a lot more damage than you can do individually."
Gary had 12 homicides in October, police said. Investigators successfully pursued charges against suspects in seven of those cases, Carter said. Five more suspects are in custody, and two are still at large.
Steele, who was out on parole when the Millers were killed, was convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1984.
Cpl. Gabrielle King, a police department spokeswoman, said detectives were able to bring charges against Steele because residents responded to their call for help.
"I believe this gentleman will never see the light of day for the rest of his life," Clay said of Steele, "and that's really what he deserves."
The number of homicides in Gary so far this year is believed to be 46, although that number could not be confirmed. The city recorded 51 homicides last year.
Carter downplayed a theory that the increase in violence in Gary is tied to the bad economy and a lack of jobs.
"These are just people who want to commit crimes," Carter said.