A one-time Washington resident and crack addict who police say strangled young women he knew has been charged with 10 counts of murder in a 20-month string of deaths in North Carolina.
The suspected serial killer, Henry Louis Wallace, 28, was a drifter, but he had settled in Charlotte, N.C., three years ago and found all his victims there, Deputy Police Chief L.R. Snider said.
Wallace is being held without bond at Mecklenburg County (N.C.) Jail. His first court appearance was scheduled for today.
Wallace was arrested Feb. 4 on a misdemeanor larceny charge. Police said he also has been arrested in both South Carolina and Washington state for crimes ranging from sex offenses to burglary and larceny, and is wanted in Port Orchard on a parole violation.
In Port Orchard, Kitsap County sheriff's Sgt. Cameron Mandeville said yesterday that Wallace had been sought on a warrant issued in 1990 for parole violation stemming from a second-degree burglary conviction.
At the time of his arrest for the Bremerton burglary, Wallace was a Navy weapons technician assigned to the USS Nimitz, Mandeville said. Wallace is a native of Barnwell, S.C.
Mandeville said, to his knowledge, there are no unsolved murders in the Kitsap County area that match the profile of the Charlotte killings. Kitsap County detectives were to review their cases this week.
Wallace was charged yesterday with murder after nine bodies were recovered, interim Charlotte Police Chief Jack Boger said.
Wallace then disclosed the location of the 10th body, which investigators were searching for yesterday, Boger said.
One of the bodies had been burned in a house fire, and police had not yet determined the cause of death. But based on what Wallace told investigators, police believe he strangled nine of his victims.
"It was the common thread that ran through the majority of the cases," Snider said.
Wallace, who had no permanent address, worked in various restaurants and is an "ordinary-looking person," Snider said.
"He had worked with some of the victims before," Snider said. "He knew these women."
Most of the victims lived in the same part of east Charlotte and were killed in their homes or apartments.
Snider said police have physical evidence linking the suspect to all the murders and he was cooperating with investigators.
"We are thoroughly convinced now that we have the killer behind bars," Snider said.
"If he did this, I don't know who he takes after. Nobody in my family ever did anything like this," the suspect's mother, Lottie Mae Wallace, told The Charlotte Observer. She learned of the charges after finishing a 12-hour shift at a sock- manufacturing plant.
"You try to raise somebody, do your best and then something like this happens."
Terrell Hubbard, who said he was friends with Wallace, described him as intelligent and attractive, with "a lot of girlfriends."
Wallace was charged with murdering Sharon Lovett Nance, 33, whose death was reported May 27, 1992; Shawna Hawk, 20, reported dead Feb. 19, 1993; Audrey Ann Spain, 24, reported dead June 25, 1993; Valencia Jumper, 21, reported dead Aug. 10, 1993; and Michelle Stinson, 20, reported dead Sept. 15, 1993.
He also was charged with four deaths reported this year: Vanessa Little Mack, 25, Feb. 20; Brandi Henderson, 18, March 9; Betty Jean Baucum, 24, March 10 and Debra Slaughter, 35, March 12.
Henderson's 10-month-old baby was choked but survived, police said.
Police were searching for the body of Caroline Love, 20, reported missing June 15, 1992.
Police said they have obtained information since Wallace's arrest that he may be responsible for an 11th murder in South Carolina. Investigators said they also have checked with law-enforcement agencies across the country to determine if any other murders can be linked to the suspect.
Two additional women's bodies were found Wednesday along Interstate 26 in Berkeley County, S.C. One was identified as Olivia J. Moshier, 21, of Peerskill, N.Y. She and another woman, whose identity has not been confirmed, apparently were strangled early Wednesday and their bodies dragged down an embankment along the interstate, authorities said.