Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Henry Louis Wallace: Charlotte, N.C. Serial Killer

Henry Louis Wallace: A Calamity Waiting to Happen

By Joseph Geringer

Between 1992 and 1994, nine young black women in Charlotte, North Carolina, were
raped and strangled to death, the murders increasing in ferocity and rapidity. For
almost two years the killer remained at large, causing what led to an angry hysteria
in the city – especially within the predominantly minority community where the
murders were occurring. Observed was a lack of adequate police patrolling in that
area of town. However, the real reason that the murderer continued to run rampant
was because the police were, simply, stumped.

Understaffed and overworked – there were only seven full-time investigators on roll
call at the time (there are now 25) – the force was not ready to face a serial killer
who crept up out of nowhere. Though eager, determined, tough and professional,
the police were not used to a psychopath whose motive could not be labeled and
whose modus operandi was too sloppy to categorize. Each of the murders was
treated separately, with a different investigator assigned to each one. Notes were
not compared and the cases went, for a long time, unlinked. The city cops finally
sought help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"But, even at that, the contact provided little information at first," proclaims Charisse
Coston, Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina. "The killer
at large in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area did not fit the usual profile of a serial
murderer. For one, he slew close friends and acquaintances, even co-workers, an
exceedingly rare trait of this brand of killers."

However, Henry Louis Wallace, the eventual suspect, did share one common thread
with all serial killers: He was able to hide his inner vehemence from the world. Says
Coston, "The very people he killed trusted him. They had no forewarning of their
death, even seconds before he struck at them."

A 1994 Time magazine article on serial killings, called "Dances With Werewolves,"
attests to this. Author Anastasia Toufexis says of Wallace, "Women, taken with his
sweet smile, solicitous attitude and pleasant looks, trusted him...They invited him to
their homes for dinner, watched while he cradled their babies in his arms, accepted
his invitations to date."

In her classes at the university, Professor Coston hosts a Microsoft PowerPoint
presentation on Wallace's 1992-94 homicides, highlighting the details of the
investigation and the ultimate identification of Wallace. Conducting the presentation
is Sergeant Gary McFadden, one of Charlotte-Mecklenburg's top investigators. Their
help in sharing information with The Crime Library has been invaluable, providing
this author with the ability to trace the case history of one of America's most
dangerous, yet least recorded, serial killers.

Following is the frightening story of a violent chain reaction born from Henry
Wallace's abstract, dysfunctional upbringing, exacerbated by a sexual drive and an
abuse of drugs. A man whom the Charlotte Observer described as, "a calculated,
cold-blooded killer who...hid his crimes by meticulously cleaning up murder scenes."
A man whose impulsive crimes baffled a city, its police force, and had a population
of more than 400,000 checking over its shoulders on dark streets and byways for
almost two years.

Serving as the spine-work for this article are two sources of data, both provided
by Coston and McFadden; these are 1) the transcript of Henry Wallace's murder
confession and 2) a copy of the authorized social profile of the defendant that was

compiled just prior to his court trial. Together, this data proved vital in shaping
Wallace in and out of control.

As well, I referred to several court and trial records, particularly the court dockets
and "Appellate Report," the latter that details his case from its roots to its
dramatic finale. Spotlighted are not only the history of the murders and energized
investigations, but also the main players of the hunt, the arrest and indictment, the
trial and the legal ramifications of the trial.

City records and local newspapers, too, provided insight into the contemporary
landscape: the City of Charlotte, the County of Mecklenburg and the peoples'
reactions to the scary things that were unfolding within their boundaries, sometimes
as close as next door.

According to Fortune magazine, Charlotte, North Carolina, possesses the best pro-
business attitude in the country. Its support of the corporate community and its belief in
civic-corporate melding to sustain the livelihood of the metropolis are second to none.
Nearly 14,000 new jobs were created in 1994 alone and, because of that, forecasters
placed Charlotte eighth in a list of American cities destined to reach zenith economic
growth over the next decade. That same year, 1994, the city earned recognition as the
third largest banking center in the United States and was noted as the sixth largest
wholesale center with $11 billion in retail sales. Demographically, Charlotte's urban
culture co-exists well with little friction. With records such as these, the council-manager
form of government that rules Charlotte and the County of Mecklenburg can be proud.

But, Charlotte had its troubles, too, that year.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, like most big-city law enforcement
bureaus, operates on a shoestring budget. Its efforts, despite the largesse of its civic
headaches, have culminated in programs that have honed in on major problems. In
short, the police force is, by record, winning its war on crime.

But, it had its hands full in the 1992-94 season when an elusive someone was preying
on young women in East Charlotte – raping them, strangling them and, sometimes,
stabbing them to death. On top of this, the police were trying (with limited numbers) to
battle a mixed criminal element. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR)
Program, Charlotte-Mecklenburg stats for 1993 indicate more than 51,000 incidences of
crime, 9,102 of these falling under the description of "violent". Broken down, they cite 87
murders, 350 rapes, 2,713 robberies and 5,952 assaults.

The strangulation murders, however, because of their growing intensity, took center
stage. As the volume of killings grew, Charlotte's alarm rose steadily along with them.
What would become a 22-month killing spree of nine murders attributed to the same
suspect began slowly – the first three over a year's time. The police did not anticipate a
serial killer or the avalanche of public dismay that would come when his rage eventually
began to escalate. The first of the nine killings would not even be labeled a murder, in
fact, for many months to come. No corpse had been found and, thus, victim number one
was filed as a "Missing Person".

This spree began undetected on June 19, 1992. The manager of Bojangle's Restaurant
on Central Avenue contacted Kathy Love to tell her that her sister, Caroline, had not
reported to work in a couple of days. He asked her to please check on her condition.
Kathy, alerted, rushed to Caroline's flat. Not finding Caroline at home, or evidence of foul
play, she left a note relaying her boss' – and her own – concern. Contacting Caroline's
roommate, Sadie McKnight, to ask her where her friend might be, Sadie expressed that

Carolin Love (Charlotte

she too had become suspicious because it was not like Caroline to remain incommunicado
for more than 48 hours, even if she was staying with friends. Together, Kathy Love and
Sadie McKnight brought their suspicions to the police.

Investigator Anthony Rice questioned the Bojangles manager and learned that the last
time he had seen Caroline was when she left work on the evening of the 15th. She asked
if she could trade a $10 bill for a roll of quarters so she could do a load of laundry when
she got home. Her cousin, Robert Ross, who drove her back to her place that night, said
he saw her go into her foyer and that she had seemed neither sidetracked nor nervous.

In searching the apartment, the police became suspicious; it bore appearances of a
scuffle. The furniture seemed to be slightly repositioned, as if shoved aside during a fight.
Curiously, the sheets from Caroline's bed were removed and were not in the laundry
hamper, which was full. Rice determined that Caroline had never done the laundry, as
she had planned, and that the roll of quarters she purchased from her workplace was not
in the apartment.

Charlotte police continued to search for Caroline Love, but every lead met with a dead
end. She was filed missing and became one of the many case cards of runaways whose
fates remained a mystery. Her body would not be discovered for nearly two years.


Eight months later, on February 19, 1993, Mrs. Sylvia Sumpter came home from work,
prepared to make dinner for herself and her teenage daughter, Shawna Hawk. Sumpter
wondered where her daughter was; she should have been home much, much earlier from
her morning commute to Piedmont Central Community College. The mother couldn't
figure out why her coat and purse lay unattended in the dining room. Shawna never
went anywhere without that purse and surely wouldn't have forgotten her coat during the
wintry season! Placing a call to Darryl Kirkpatrick, Shawna's boyfriend, Sumpter learned
that he hadn't seen the girl all day. She then phoned the local Taco Bell, where Shawna
worked part time, to see if Shawna had been called in, but the counter clerk told her she
was not listed on the evening's schedule.

Mrs. Sumpter began to fret, especially when relatives called inquiring why Shawna had
not picked up her godson at school as was her routine. Boyfriend Kirkpatrick, receiving
another call from the distressed mother, jumped in his car and sped to her house to calm
Shawna Hawk

Rummaging through the house, hoping to find a clue as to where Shawna might have
gone, Kirkpatrick wandered into the downstairs bathroom. There, he noticed that the
carpeting was soaked and that the shower curtain was not tucked in place. Through the
translucency of the curtain, he thought he could see something or someone crouching
below the wall of the tub. Yanking the curtain back, he screamed. Shawna lay naked in a
tubful of water, her head sunken below the surface, her eyes staring lifelessly upwards.

Shawna Hawk was pronounced dead at the hospital. Her skull had suffered lacerations
and bruising caused by a blow from a dull and heavy object. However, while that object
may have dealt unconsciousness, it had not killed her. The examining doctor diagnosed
that she had been strangled to death. Forensic pathologist James M. Sullivan, who
performed an autopsy, noted hemorrhaging in the conjunctiva (lining of the eyes),
the face, the lips and across the voice box – all trademarks of ligature strangulation.
According to Dr. Sullivan, a ligature is "a cord or a band, or something that's made into a
cord or a band, then circles the neck and is used to forcibly compress the neck."

(Charlotte Observer)

The hospital defined her death as a homicide. Police were called in. Co-workers, friends,
classmates – all were interviewed, but the police failed to corner a suspect or a motive.

Audrey Spain, 24 years old, was a dependable employee, so when she failed to show up
two nights in a row – June 23 and 24, 1993 -- her manager at Taco Bell knew something
was amiss. He phoned her, but got only her answering machine. Trying her sister, he
encountered the same results. Twice failed, he decided to cruise by Spain's apartment
building to check things out himself. Her car was in the parking lot, so he entered the
building and knocked on the door that, according to the designated mailbox, was hers.
There was no answer despite several firm-handed raps.

In the morning, still not being able to get a hold of Spain or her sister, he placed a call
to the girl's janitor to plead his intervention. This time, results. When the janitor entered
Audrey Spain's flat, his eyes fell on the open bedroom doorway and what looked like a
naked woman sprawled across the bed. Edging closer, he knew that that clay-colored
inanimate thing was once the vibrant tenant named Audrey who smiled at him so warmly
whenever they crossed paths. Her face was now distorted, her eyes bulged, and her
entire form lay maligned as if frozen while in the throes of anguish. Entwining her neck
were articles of clothing, what looked like a T-shirt and a bra, tied together and knotted
at the Adam's apple to cut off her air.

Medical examiners concurred that she had been both strangled and raped.

Caroline Love, Shawna Hawk, Audrey missing person, two nearly identical
strangulations...months apart. Unfortunately, no witnesses had come forth to report
suspicious characters hanging about at the advent of each crime; no one had seen the
same green Maxima parked near the crime scenes; no one was yet able to piece the
events together into one ultimately important clue: that each of the victims knew one
particular man. As yet, neither the police nor the newspapers detected a serial killer. Life
went on. And the investigations of the three unfortunate women faded as police were
forced to take on other crimes occurring across Charlotte- Mecklenburg in the heat of
another summer.



Subject experts such as FBI Profiler Roy Hazelwood and Robert Ressler, the FBI agent who
coined the term serial killer, agree that the man whom the Charlotte Observer began to
call "The Charlotte Strangler" did not fit the niche of the defined "serial killer" image. In
fact, it was Ressler who told the court at the killer's eventual trial, that if he had wanted to
become another Ted Bundy, for instance, "he was going about it in the wrong way." The
killer's modus operandi did not follow a set pattern.

Case in point: the murder of victim number four, Valencia Jumper.

Jumper was an ambitious 19-year-old college student, recently relocated from Columbia,
South Carolina, who worked at Food Lion Groceries as well as at a clothing shop to help
pay tuition. In August 1993, the same man who had already killed Hawk, Love and Spain
snuffed her life. But, her murder was set up as so inordinately different that even the most
practical of detectives would have missed the link.

On the night of August 9, a visiting boyfriend, Zachary Douglas, smelled something burning

as he neared Jumper's apartment doorway; he then saw wisps of black smoke issuing from
the threshold. Finding his friend's door bolted, he summoned a fellow tenant who called
the fire department. A unit was there in no time to axe Jumper's door. Inside, firefighter
Dennis Arney saw that the blaze, which had spread throughout the small apartment, had
begun on the kitchen stove where a pot of something had been left over a lit gas burner.
The flames had reached a connecting bedroom where, it appeared, Jumper had fallen
asleep on her bed. She was severely burned.

The next day, the coroner examined the charred remains to conclude that the girl had died
of (as he wrote in his report) "thermal burns".

It would not be until the Charlotte Strangler was apprehended and confessed to her murder
that Jumper's remains would be reassessed. After the latter examination, the coroner
amended his earlier, hasty diagnosis, changing her cause of death to strangulation.

The next victim, Michelle Stinson, met her death on September 15 – five weeks after
Jumper's death – in a manner not matching Jumper and with a major variation from the
other murdered females. While strangled, she was also stabbed. The murder weapon (an
ordinary kitchen knife) had been shoved through her back. Her body was found in the
kitchen by her two young sons, one three and one a year old, who had neither seen nor
heard her assailant. When the older child ran for a friend, James Mayes, to tell him that his
mother was "sleeping on the floor," Mayes hurried over to discover Stinson lying cold in a
pool of blood. Her telephone had been ripped from the wall.

An autopsy revealed that the blade had penetrated the upper left side of her back, below
the shoulder blade, and had caused mortal wounds to the heart and lungs. Stinson had
been raped, and then strangled with a ligature. This time, the strangling occurred after she
had died from the knife wounds or while she lay dying and comatose.

As the police continued to question relatives and friends, neighbors and cohorts of the
murdered women, they were drawing big-time blanks. Although the killings were starting
to appear as maybe the handiwork of one man who got a kick out of strangling and raping
women, and
Michelle Stinson even though they all took place within a five-mile radius of East Charlotte,
(Charlotte Observer)made it impossible to pinpoint any identifying traits beyond the garroting of
their diversity
the neck.

But, the black population in whose area the homicides were occurring began to rankle; the
citizens interpreted the police department's no-show results as something else, something
one-sided. While the local newspapers had been low-key – in fact, most of the earlier
deaths had gone unreported – communication in the targeted area intensified. Under fire
was a perceived lackadaisical attitude by local politicians and law enforcers who, claimed
some, ignored problems occurring among Charlotte's 31- percent total black population.

East Charlotte was and is a busy urban area of hard-working people – mostly black,
but with a checkerboard of other races – chiefly middle class. It is wrought with modest
housing, modest living, and modest temperaments. It keeps on the move with strip malls,
and shopping centers, and storefront businesses, and fast-food chains, and movie houses
and small whatever-shops along its major avenues. It is the kind of neighborhood where
people like to walk – where kids stroll to schools and women window browse. And where
the populace doesn’t like to think that maybe a strangler is watching their kids on their way
to school or eyeing their wives and girlfriends doing a little light shopping.

Many in the neighborhood refused to understand why the police could not match
fingerprints found at the crime scenes against any prints on file, nor could they fathom how
an obviously male strangler and rapist could slip past supposed dragnets time after time

after time.

"In defense, City Hall vowed they were doing the best they could; that the city's patrolmen
were working night and day to solve the rash of murders and that patrol cars were stopping
any and all suspicious characters," reports Charisse Coston of the state university.

At an emergency press conference, the department committed to results and assured the
people that investigations would continue.

Homicide Detective Sergeant Gary McFadden, who had been appointed lead investigator
by Assistant Chief Boger only hours before the press conference, suddenly found himself in
the thick of battle. Although he had not previously been assigned to the Strangler case, his
excellent record had earned him a tough and thankless position. Faced suddenly with the
task of being the spokesperson and mediator between the police and the public, it was now
up to him to explain why the murderer had not been caught.

A black man himself, McFadden found no understanding ear from his own people.

"The community hated me," he confesses, "and in a way I felt like a scapegoat. It was total

But, McFadden, being a professional, did his duty. Well. "I spoke with each of the affected
families personally," he relates, "and they calmed down. I expressed my sympathy as well
as my determination to bring their loved one's murderer to justice."

Throughout the fall of 1993, the situation quieted. After Stinson's murder in mid-
remainder of the year into and past the Christmas holidays passed without
another event. Because of the pressure put on them, the police had increased their patrols
in the community and, now that things grew to a calm, wondered if they had scared off the
killer or killers. (The police department at this point was still unsure if it was dealing with
unrelated criminals or with an individual strangler.)

Vanessa Mack
September, the
(Charlotte Observer)

Incident-free nevertheless, both McFadden and the people he served felt an uneasy pause
in the holiday air. Their apprehension proved not to be unwarranted.

On Sunday, February 20, 1994, Vanessa Mack's mother, Barbara, came to pick up her
grandchild as she did every Sunday so Vanessa could go to her job at the Carolinas
Medical Center. She arrived a little earlier than usual, as it wasn't quite the appointed
6 a.m. Barbara was surprised to find the door ajar. Assuming that her daughter and
granddaughter were just inside, she called out, expecting to hear a familiar, "Come in,
Mom!" No one answered her. Stepping into the foyer, Barbara knew something was wrong.
Vanessa's four-month-old child was asleep on the sofa, still in her play clothes from the
day before, but Vanessa was nowhere to be seen. Not in the kitchen, not in the bathroom,
not in her bedroom. But – when Barbara did a double take at the bed she realized that that
gray bundle of covers was not a bundle at all, but her daughter thrown partially dressed in
a misshapen position across the mattress. Something was wrapped around her throat; it
looked like a pillowcase. Her skin tone matched the dull fatigue of the morning sky outside
her window, and, by the touch, her skin had become as cold as the pane of glass that faced
the winter chill. Scooping the tot from the sofa, Barbara raced into the hallway where she
pounded on a tenant's door for use of his phone.

Jeff Baumgarner was the first patrolman to arrive on the scene. One glance at the corpse
and he knew, from hearing the stories his fellow police officers told after finding some of
the other strangling victims, that the same killer – or someone like him – had struck again.

Six-foot tall, 200 pounds, and with a very pleasant face, 29-year-old Henry Louis Wallace


was, outwardly, a very affable fellow. He was chatty, bright, a go-getter and smiled,
constantly – except at certain times, like the night after Vanessa Mack's murder, when he
sat down before his TV set to affix himself to the dinnertime news report. But, he smiled
again when the program ended and there had not been even the slightest reference to the
latest strangling or to the manhunt that the police claimed was in full vigor.

He decided to stay indoors that night, for the same reason he kept out of sight after all the
other murders – just in case someone had seen his face and the cops were on the streets
with a composite drawing of his puss in their hands.

He felt remorse at what he'd done to Vanessa Mack – damn it, he always felt remorse! –
but he figured it would wear away. It did all those other times, after he had killed Hawk,
Love, Stinson – all of them.

Time heals, said the cliché. It was true.

During the second week of March, 1994, things began to break open. There would
be three more murders in three days, between March 9 and 11, culminating in
the identification and arrest of the Charlotte Strangler. As a glut had overtaken
Henry Louis Wallace, he went berserk and grew careless. The precautions he had
previously taken to hide himself – spacing out the murders, wiping off fingerprints,
even bathing some of his victims – were abandoned as he went on a joyride of

"Early in 1994, Charlotte-Mecklenburg detectives sought the assistance of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation in an effort to define the type of murderer or
murderers they were looking for," explains North Carolina University Professor of
Criminal Justice Charisse Coston, whose classes have studied the complexities of
the Strangler case. "The elemental nature of each murder was repetitive in some
respects, but diverse in others."

The FBI failed to slot the strangulations as those of a serial killer, a call that would
prove erroneous. Although the Bureau missed its mark in this instance, it cannot
be judged harshly. According to a 1994 Associated Press article, the black man who
was finally arrested for the crimes did not fit the niche at all. "(The killer) is a black
man who knew his victims," the article asserts. "Most serial killers are white men
who kill strangers."

That the Strangler did indeed know each and every one of his victims would prove
to be his undoing.

In the meantime, Sergeant McFadden was making attempts to tie together loose
ends. His men interrogated possible area suspects – those with violent pasts who
could move easily and unobserved among the black community where the crimes
were being perpetrated. Detectives also reopened contact with families and friends
of all the dead girls, hoping to find a continuous thread running throughout the
case histories of the victims. Perhaps they hung out at a particular place where
they might have come in contact with the killer. Perhaps they at one time worked
together. Or attended the same school. Maybe they had all befriended the same
man, one particular individual with a criminal record. Nothing, McFadden knew, was
beyond possibility.

As the investigation steam-rolled forward, however, the killer struck twice in two

successive nights.

On March 9, Betty Baucom did not report to work at Bojangles Restaurant where
she served as assistant manager. Because it was the same eatery on Central
Avenue where Caroline Love had worked before she disappeared from the face of
the earth, Manager Jeffery Ellis became cautious. Phoning her at her home, there
was no answer. Throughout the night he figured Baucom might appear with a
reasonable explanation. She never showed up.

The next day, she was again scheduled to work. When she proved truant a second
time, Ellis called the police. Baucom was wholly reliable and acts of absenteeism,
especially two in a row, were contrary to her efficient nature. Police officer Gregory
Norwood responded to the call.

Obtaining access into her flat through the maintenance man, Norwood discovered
Baucom fully clothed, face down on her mattress, choked to death by a towel
twisted into a noose around her neck. She was stone cold, having been dead more
than 24 hours.

This time, for the first time, the police believed the murderer had left them
something to go on. Whereas the past victims' places of residence reflected
only minor, if any, physical signs of disturbance, Baucom's apartment had been
noticeably plundered. A bare entertainment center and cable wires leading nowhere
told them that a TV and a VCR were missing. As well, Baucom's aqua-colored Pulsar
was gone from the building's parking lot.

Squad cars were alerted to look out for the Pulsar cruising Charlotte's streets.
Simultaneously, investigators checked local pawnshops to see if someone had
tried to exchange the stolen goods for cash. But, while this was happening, a
headquarters dispatcher summoned a patrol to the apartment of Brandi Henderson,
whose boyfriend had just found her dead. When the police arrived, they realized it
was the same apartment complex where Betty Baucom had just been found.

More than that, this latest scene was pure chaos, the worst aftermath of the
Strangler's attacks to date. This time he had assaulted a baby as well!

The boyfriend who called the police, Verness Lamar Woods, lived with Henderson.
He had just come home from his job's night shift to find a ravaged apartment,
his girlfriend dead in bed with towels encircling her neck, and their 10-month-old
toddler, T.W., in his room, barely alive and also garroted.

A court summary of the incident reads, "Woods immediately ran to T.W. to remove
(a pair of) shorts, which were tied tightly around (his) neck." When Woods found
Henderson, strangled and stiff, her face was a bluish tone. "He moved Henderson's
body from the bed to the floor and began administering CPR pursuant to instructions
from the 911 operator. When police officers arrived, it was clear Henderson was

An ambulance rushed little T.W. to the Carolinas Medical Center where at first
doctors feared the asphyxiation he suffered might have caused brain damage.
Luckily, the child revived and tests indicated that he would recover without
permanent injury. Dr. Thomas Brewer wrote, however, that the child had endured
great pain and mental distress because of the applied ligature.

Detectives could feel their blood boiling at this point; their commander Gary
McFadden drew his squad together for a meeting early the next morning to compare

Betty Baucom
(Charlotte Observer)

the notes they had made during their interviews with the deceased women's
acquaintances. The results of the reports were enlightening. They indicated that
the girls did not seem to know each other – although some had crossed paths – or
had never worked or schooled together. The clubs where they socialized differed.
But...when asked to list names of people with whom each victim associated, all of
the interviewees mentioned in their list the same name: Henry Louis Wallace.

Of the slain women, both Shawna Hawk and Audrey Spain had at one time worked
at Taco Bell for the same manager, Henry Wallace.

Valencia Jumper was a good friend of Wallace's sister, Yvonne.

Michelle Stinson would often eat at Taco Bell and chat with Wallace.

Vanessa Mack was the sister of one of Wallace's ex-girlfriends.

Betty Baucom was a friend of Wallace's current girlfriend, Sadie McKnight.

Brandi Henderson was the girlfriend of one of Wallace's pals, Verness Lamar Woods,
who found Brandi. In fact, Woods had told the police that Wallace was prone to visit
with Brandi while he was at work.

Reaching back into the open case of "missing person" Caroline Love, detectives now
realized that Love had also known Wallace well; she had been the roommate of
Sadie McKnight, his girlfriend, whom Wallace visited regularly.

The puzzle pieces slid into place perfectly now. When pulling a rap sheet on the
sudden suspect, Sergeant McFadden was surprised to find that, as he recalls, "An
outstanding warrant was already out for Henry Louis Wallace for having failed to
come to court on a recent larceny charge."

"When the police approached Sadie McKnight, she was very taken aback, very
surprised that her boyfriend Henry was suspected of being the Charlotte Strangler,"
adds Charisse Coston. "But, the more she thought about it, the more sense it made.
All along, Henry had been giving her presents – bracelets, rings and necklaces –
that sometimes seemed to be very familiar. In retrospect, she now realized that she Debra Slaughter
(Charlotte Observer)
had been wearing dead girlfriends' jewelry!"

But, still Gary McFadden wondered: Is it all just coincidence? So he knew the
women...would he have an alibi?...Could it be proven he had been with the victims
on the nights they were killed?

And then it came, the evidence McFadden dreamed about. Betty Baucom's Pulsar
was located, abandoned across town. Swipes of fingerprints found on the trunk lid
matched Henry Wallace's file prints.

Police staked out Wallace's residence at the Glen Hollow Apartments on North
Sharon Amity Road throughout the evening of March 11 and the following day.
Officers Gil Allred and Sid Wright tracked him down at a friend's house, however,
where he was cuffed at approximately 5 p.m. on March 12. According to the Report
of Arrest, the suspect was sober, "very calm and collected," surrendered without
a fight, and seemed "a little wrinkled". Following their supervisor's orders, the
patrolmen delivered their catch not to the customary Intake Center, but to the Law
Enforcement Center, or LEC, where a small brigade of plainclothesmen anxiously
awaited his company. They had a few questions.

Wallace's arrest, with all its promise, had not come auspiciously. While the
detectives gathered at the LEC to greet the alleged Strangler, another body had
been found in Charlotte. Pretty Debra Slaughter had been discovered that afternoon

raped, beaten, stabbed and choked, a white linen shoved down her windpipe.

She had earned the inglorious title of Luckless, Final Victim.

And, yes, she too had been an intimate friend of Henry Louis Wallace.

At the LEC, Wallace was led into an interview room where several men stood
around a long bare table under fluorescent lighting. They looked up when patrol
officers Wright and Allred ushered Wallace through the door and came forth to
introduce themselves. They asked the suspect if he knew why he was there, and at
first he alluded only to the larceny charge. But, over the next several hours these
men would take turns interviewing the suspect until he confessed to killing all nine
of the Charlotte women – Caroline Love, Shawna Hawk, Audrey Spain, Valencia
Jumper, Michelle Stinson, Vanessa Mack, Betty Baucom, Brandi Henderson and,
less than 48 hours before he was arrested, Debra Slaughter. He also admitted
murdering a prostitute whose name he never knew and whose body he concealed
in a remote area not far from where he had dumped the cadaver of "missing
person" Caroline Love.

At approximately 10 p.m., after the initial interrogation, Wallace was read the
Miranda rights, and then asked if he would agree to taping his confession. In no
way was he coerced. The prisoner nodded and replied that having already admitted
to what he had done, "I feel like a big burden has been lifted."

Speaking into a recording microphone, Wallace led his listeners through many
hours of sickening details. He verbally brought them from one murder scene to
another, describing his thoughts as he killed the women, remembering their final
words and actions, even their agony when he applied what he called the "Boston
choke" on them to render them powerless.

Though he robbed most of his victims before he killed them, the hard-line
underlying motive for the murders was not theft, however, but sex. He fulfilled
his sensual fantasies of power and control. The thefts funded his crack habit, but
sex was the initiator. As the months progressed and he had been fired from one
job after another, the only way he knew how to quickly get cash was through his
friends, unwilling or otherwise. Robbing the women provided a more practical
threshold to his more ultimate carnal desires.

Leading the interview was Sergeant Patrick Sanders who, according to the
Charlotte Observer, "is known for remaining calm and logical...His rough-skinned
face is open and kind, his soft frame non-threatening."

Accompanying Sanders were other Charlotte-Mecklenburg homicide detectives
who took their shift during the ongoing series of confessions throughout the night,
asking questions, clarifying points. Among them were Gary McFadden, Darrell Price,
William Ward, Mark Corwin, Anthony Rice, and C.E. Boothe.

At one point, an investigator told Wallace that he did not seem to be a bad man
by nature, and asked him if he thought he might be schizophrenic. "No," Wallace
answered, "there's only one Henry – a {bad} Henry."

Following are brief descriptions of what happened at the scenes of murder,
interspersed with Henry Louis Wallace's own chilling words:

The Love Murder

He had taken a key to Caroline Love's apartment from his girlfriend and Love's
roommate, Sadie McKnight. When he knew that Love would be alone, he entered
her apartment and hid in the bathroom for her to come home from work. When she
arrived home, he told her he wanted to make love. When she resisted, he put her
in a wrestling hold.

"I kept the hold on her until she passed out. And at that time I moved her to her
bedroom and removed her clothes, had intercourse with her, and at the same time
I was still applying the chokehold. She began to fight (so) I used a curling iron that
was near her bed and I placed the cord around her neck."

After she died, he folded the body in her bed sheets and placed the bundle in
a large orange trash bag – "kind of like the city workers use" – and carried the


According to a social profile done on Henry Louis Wallace in preparation for his trial,
it appears that his problems stemmed from a dysfunctional upbringing. His mother
grew up soured on life, her own beloved mother having died young and her father
having deserted the brood shortly thereafter. Her resentment of life did not improve
when she gave birth out of wedlock to two children – first Yvonne, then Henry – by a
married high school teacher who then returned to his wife.

Wallace was born in Barnwell, South Carolina, on November 4, 1965, dirt poor.
Carmeta V. Albarus, a certified social worker who interviewed, then profiled Wallace
and his family for his trial’s defense team, says that Wallace's mother “sought to
control (her son) through violence, emotional abuse and other inappropriate means.”
Vacant in the son's formative years was a realized conception of family togetherness.

Aside from a lack of emotional comfort, the tumbledown house in which Wallace
grew up claimed neither electricity nor plumbing. The Wallaces drank from a
pump well and their bathroom was really a watershed with a set of chamber pots.
Household members included young Henry, his sister Yvonne (three years older), the
children's mother and great grandmother. Tensions ran high. The latter two did not
get along and argued incessantly. As well, the matron was a strict disciplinarian.

Potty training for Henry was his first knowledge of hell. As a toddler, if he had an
accident in his trousers, he was berated. The chastisement instilled little Henry
with such terror that he would often go in his pants, then try to hide his mistake by
concealing his soiled trousers.

Because the mother was the sole provider in the household and had to work
long days to pay the bills, she demanded that her children grow up quickly. But,
sometimes her discipline was severe. When she thought either of her two children
deserved to be punished, she would make them pick their own switch by which to be
spanked. If she was fatigued after a day's work, she ordered brother and sister to
whip each other. When interviewed in jail by social worker Albarus in 1996, Wallace
recalled how painful it was to have to hurt his sister – worse than being on the
receiving end.

Wallace never argued with his elder about this matter or any other, even when he
was forced to wear his sister's hand-me-downs or empty out the family's chamber
pots, which was his daily chore.

The child yearned to be like his friends at John F. Meyers Elementary School. These
kids had dads with whom to play stickball and fly kites, but little Henry had no dad.
When he once asked his mom about his natural father – who he was, where did he
go – the other told him to quit idling.

Something happened when Wallace was in sixth grade that would psychologically
scar him for life. His father called on the phone, out of nowhere; he introduced
himself and told the boy he had always wanted to meet him. He promised to stop by
during the week. The child became excited, wondering what his father looked like,
how he would take to him when they saw each other for the very first time.

The following morning, Wallace rose early. “He recalled staying home from school so
he would be there when he arrived,” writes Albarus. “(He) watched from his mother’s
room, every car that turned the corner…He waited the following day, and the day
after that.” His father never appeared.

That memory pained him by day and by night, in his busy hours and in his quiet

hours. Life went on, but it dragged for some time after.

Wallace began high school in 1979. These years moved uneventfully, his academic
achievements sparse. However, schoolmates liked him, teachers thought him an
obedient boy. Because his mother forbade him to join the football team, he did the
next best thing: joined the cheerleading squad. That he was the only male on the
roster – and at six feet towered over his feminine counterparts – didn’t incite jeers;
rather, he won admiration from students and school staff alike for his enthusiasm
and creativity. The girl cheerleaders adored him for his politeness and upbeat

After graduating from Barnwell High in May, 1983, Wallace made a feeble attempt to
pursue higher education. He attended South Carolina State College for a semester,
then Denmark Technical College for another. He failed from both, not from lack of
ability, but of drive. He expended more interest in his evening job that as a disc
jockey at a small, local radio station, WBAW. Fashioning himself as a “Wolfman Jack”
prototype, he tagged himself “The Night Rider”. (Considering what was to come,
this moniker lends an eerie afterglow.) Listeners enjoyed his humor, his easy-going
manner; females liked his voice.

It may have been the roots of a career for Wallace were he not fired after a short
time, caught in the act of stealing CDs. His college plans awash, his future in hiatus,
his life a bugaboo, Wallace joined the U.S. Naval Reserve, shipping out to recruit
training in Orlando, Florida, in December, 1984. He would remain in the Navy eight

In the Navy, Wallace shone. “Henry was described as an outstanding seaman who
willingly followed all orders given to him and accomplished his assigned tasks in a
timely manner," Albarus reports. "It was noted that his knowledge level was higher
than expected of a seaman." He was eventually promoted to third class petty officer.
Before he left service, his achievement ranking was nearly perfect.

While a sailor, Wallace married Maretta Brabham, a girl he had seen on and off since
sophomore year at Barnwell High. Prior to their wedding, Maretta had had a child
with another man, but Wallace opened his arms to the girl, nevertheless. Wife and
child followed Wallace as he was transferred to the West Coast and back again. But,
the union turned out to be a disappointment.

Wallace had adopted Maretta’s child, Teondra, but he wanted one of his own, too.
His spouse refused to bear any more children. This caused a strain that would
continue to rend. Furthermore, as the relationship went on, their sex life ebbed.
Wallace blamed her frigidity on the fact that she had been raped as a teenager.
When he suggested they attend a counseling session, she blew up.

The year 1992 was the beginning of the end – for the marriage and for Wallace
himself. In August of that year he was apprehended in a breaking-and-entry near the
naval base and asked to leave the service. (Because of his until-then unblemished
record, the Navy permitted him to exit on an Honorable Discharge.) Immediately
after he re-entered civilian life, Maretta left him. Unemployed and heartbroken,
Wallace moved back in with his mom and sister, who now lived near Charlotte, North

During this time, Wallace dated other girls, though still pining for Maretta. He
impregnated one of them, and even though the relationship did not last, he became
a proud father when a beautiful baby girl was born in September, 1993. Despite
Wallace's oncoming mania and downfall, the child, Kendra Urilla, remained the
treasure of his life and the only enduring bright spot he had ever known.

But, his failures were mowing him down. Having experimented with drugs at an
earlier age, he now turned to them for an escape, from memories of Maretta whom
he still loved, from reality. As his consternation increased so did his drug habits. Jobs
he took at Taco Bell and other places never lasted, simply because he just didn’t care
about them, or anything.

There had been a devil twitching inside of him, whispering bad recollections and
unfulfilled dreams. At last, Henry Louis Wallace finally gave into the devil to create a
piece of Hades on earth for nine Charlotte-area women and their families.

And for himself, as well.

Suddenly, in November, 1994, eight months after Henry Louis Wallace confessed
to his crimes, he filed a motion to suppress the interviews. His claim was that he
was coerced into making the confession. A hearing was scheduled to review his
motion, which threw the court trial schedule into a dither. His trial date needed to be
postponed pending further investigation.

Examiners studied the case and, in April of 1995, announced their findings. (These
would be printed formally in a document to be published for Wallace's trial in 1996.)
Wallace's argument rested chiefly on the objection that he was not administered the
Miranda rights until 10 p.m., more than three hours into his interview the night of
March 12, 1994. According to the published report, however, the attending officers
who met with Wallace at the Law Enforcement Center (LEC) spent the earlier part
of the night casually questioning him about his larceny charge, his drug habit and
his whereabouts at the times the Charlotte women were strangled. He was charged
only after the detectives felt there was enough suspicion warranting a charge
and before he taped his official Statement of Confession. At that time, reads the
summary, detectives "advised defendant of his Miranda rights, which defendant said
he understood and chose to waive."

Officers had not asked questions that would "elicit an incriminating response,"
the report goes on. As well, Wallace had been given refreshments and snacks and
allowed to take appropriate rest breaks. He was not brutalized, threatened or in any
way pushed into a predicament where he might have felt compelled to fear for his
life unless he responded in a pre-designated fashion.

Once Wallace began confessing, he continued to take breaks, continued to be fed on
a regular basis, and was given duration to sleep. According to the taped transcript,
there is evidence throughout that the prisoner is speaking at his own will, at-random
and at his own pace. His tone is neither beleaguered nor frightened.

Wallace's motion also cited that he was "induced" to confessing by a promise from
the detectives to let him visit with his daughter, Kendra, and his girlfriend, Sadie
McKnight. The interrogation team denied this accusation, explaining that Kendra
and Sadie's names came up after Wallace had already agreed to talk. The transcript
supports their explanation in the following taped dialogue between Sgt. Patrick
Sanders (Homicide) and Henry Wallace:





Has anybody threatened you or—


-- coerced you or made you any special promises?

No, I just want, I just want an opportunity to maybe for the last

time to hold my daughter. I'd like to say goodbye to Sadie. I really can't speak with
my family right now. I think I've caused them enough problems in my lifetime. My
mother did the best job she could to raise me.

You've asked, and I want to clarify that, you've asked us to see if we
can arrange for you to see Sadie and your daughter and we've said that we will try
to do that.





It was a condition. I wouldn't necessarily say it was an exchange. I
wanted, like I said, for the last time to say goodbye to those people.



A third charge alleged by Wallace concerned the delay in presenting him before a
magistrate. He was brought before Magistrate Karen Johnson who came to the LEC
just before noon on March 13, the morning following his confession. The defendant
challenged that had he been taken before a magistrate earlier, he might not have
felt cornered and, therefore, obliged to confess. The police stated that the delay was
due to the fact that the transcripts of the confession required time to be made and
that the defendant needed time to sleep (which he did from 7:30 a.m. to almost
noon of the 13th). After his appearance before Johnson, he continued to talk openly
and without hesitation about his crimes.

The hearing concluded that 1) Wallace had been given the Miranda rights in due and
proper time; 2) that he made his confession voluntarily, without any trickery from
the police; and 3) that the delay in bringing him before a magistrate was not based
on any off-handed motivation by the police.

Wallace's trial for murder, which took place at the Mecklenburg County Superior
Courthouse, lasted nearly four months. Court convened in September, 1996, and
concluded in late January, 1997, with the jury's judgment of death for all nine

Heading the prosecution was Mecklenburg's tough female prosecutor, Anne
Tompkins, fresh from her victory in sending high-profile child killer Fred Coffey to
prison for life. Not an obstinate hardhead, Tompkins is noted among her peers as a
believer in the truth. As she told her staff, "Our ethical obligation is to justice – not
necessarily to get a win."

Public Defender Isabel Scott Day served as Wallace's chief attorney. According to
the Charlotte Observer, "It's not unusual for Day to give clients money" to help them
out. Her humanity towards those she defends sets her apart as a hero in the legal
system. She once defended a woman charged with stealing meat in a grocery store.
When she asked why she did it, the woman said she had never tasted steak before.
Day handed her money to buy some. She told the Observer that, concerning her
defense of Wallace, "All I could do is care about him as a human being...I did not see
in him the monster that other people saw."

For Day, defending Wallace was an uphill, never-a-break, tiring task, and she had


But, aside from that, was that an exchange for you talking to us?

Was that in exchange?


Do you feel like we've used that to get you to talk to us?

No. No, I mean I hope not anyway. I mean, I don't feel that way.


expected it to be. After her failed attempts to suppress her client's confession
statement, there was little she could do but fight to save him from death. Assisted
by the prestigious law firm of Kennedy-Covington, the team's strategy was to cast
a doubt in the jury's mind as to Wallace's sanity. Two impressive witnesses for the
defense included a pair of experts on the subject of serial killings, Colonel Robert K.
Ressler from the FBI's Behavior Science Unit, and Dr. Ann W. Burgess, a specialist in
psychosocial development. Ressler testified that he believed the defendant's actions
displayed both organizational and disorganizational characteristics, which meant that
Wallace exhibited signs of psychological instability. Burgess was of the opinion that
Day's client was unable to separate reality from fantasy, thus suffering from mental

But, the jury was unmoved. The defense could not weaken the impression made by
the State, with its long line of official witnesses who talked about the fingerprints
on Baucom's automobile, who played back the tape of Wallace's confession, who
recalled Henderson's ten-month-old boy who was almost strangled to death, and
who described in detail the ghastly expressions on the dead girls' faces.

On January 7, 1997, the twelve jurors found the defendant guilty of nine counts of
first-degree murder, according to the Appellate Report, "each on the basis of malice,
premeditation and deliberation". Three weeks later, on January 29, the jury likewise
ruled that Wallace should pay for his crimes with his life. Presiding Judge Robert
Johnston's declaration of nine death sentences included in the punishment penalties
for rape and the multiplicity of other charges for which he was convicted.

The Charlotte Observer, the Fayetteville Observer and other newspapers across
North Carolina headlined Wallace's handwritten statement that he had read in court
to the families of the deceased. In the statement, Wallace conceded to the horror he
created, but asked the families for their forgiveness. Quoting the Book of Mark, he

"'And when you stand praying, forgive if you have nothing against anyone: then your
Father also which is in Heaven will forgive you and your trespasses...'"

According to the Fayetteville Observer, the families who were in court the day that
Henry Louis Wallace expressed his sorrow for what he had done "didn't buy it."
The newspaper quoted Kathy Love, sister of Wallace victim Caroline Love, who told
a reporter, "I don't believe he's sorry. He wouldn't have lied to me for two years
while my sister was missing and then killed all those other women." Her sentiments
reflected those of the other relatives present. Brandi Henderson's cousin, George
Burrell, when asked what he thought, merely shook his head and simply wanted to
know what made Wallace do what he'd done.

Defender Isabel Day's explanation to that was, "(Wallace) is very sick, very mentally
ill." She wept when the trial ended, not for her court loss, but because the high
emotion she needed to suspend over the months of trial could finally be released.

After his trial, Henry Louis Wallace was transferred to North Carolina's only death
row unit, that in Central Prison, Raleigh.

His verdict was automatically appealed. The appeal was complex, but basically it
resurrected some earlier issues – including Henry Louis Wallace's "involuntary"
confession and the delay of the issuance of his Miranda rights – and contested


some new ones – the possible illegality of the court's refusal to accept the defense's
motion for change of venue to a less prejudicial locale and even the definitions
of "premeditation" and "deliberation" as they applied to Wallace's crimes. On May
5, 2000, the Supreme Court of North Carolina filed its response: "We conclude
defendant received a fair trial and capital sentencing proceeding, free from judicial
error, and the sentences of death recommended by the jury and entered by the trial
court are not disproportionate. NO ERROR."

For a man whose appeal cited coerced confessions, Wallace kept talking, talking, and
talking, as if to dump guilt from every dark corner of his bones. Even before his trial,
Wallace had confessed to other murders for which he was not charged. Besides the
prostitute he had admitted killing in Charlotte, he also claimed to have killed, while
in the Navy, a woman named Tashanda Bethea in South Carolina in 1990.

"And there were more," Criminal Justice Professor Charisse Coston informs us. "After
his incarceration, he told authorities of others. If all true, the estimated number
nears twenty, all murdered across the world while he was on naval duty in various
ports of call."


Henry Wallace in prison

In the meantime, the prisoner sits in Central Prison, a three-
hour drive from Charlotte. According to Coston, "Officials
need to keep him separated from other unit prisoners who
drew him into fights the minute he arrived there." But, says
she, some of those who at first picked on him might think
differently now. "He was 180 pounds when arrested; he now
weighs in at around four hundred."

All prison time hasn't been downcast for Wallace, however.

He married prison nurse Rebecca Torrijas on June 5, 1998, the vows being
exchanged in a small room next to the death chamber. Although they were never
allowed to consummate their marriage, the couple remains in communication;
Torrijas is a constant visitor.

But, the memory of his wedding day almost assuredly lightens the daily load. If by
chance he glances down the corridor where the death chamber sits, he probably
remembers his wedding ceremony at that end of the hall, rather than the less-merry
one he must some day experience.


Official Records
North Carolina State Government Services (various records)

Court Proceedings "State of North Carolina vs. Henry Wallace"

Initial Charges, 1994

Appeals Review of Crimes, 2000

Statement of Confession Taped March 12-13, 1994

Social Profile of Henry Wallace prepared by Carmeta V. Albarus, M.S.W, C.S.W., for
Isabel Scott Day, Defender District 25, Charlotte, NC


Michaud, Stephen G. & Hazelwood, Roy The Evil That Men Do. NY: St. Martin's
Press, 1998.

Associated Press
Atlantic Journal and Constitution
Charlotte Observer
Charlotte Post
Fayetteville (NC) Observer
New York Times
Washington Post

Time magazine, April 4, 1994 (Vol. 143, No. 14). Article: "Dances With
Werewolves" by Anastasia Toufexis


Phone interview with Charisse Coston, Professor-Criminology and Criminal
Justice, North Carolina University, September 7, 2000.

Clarifications on case history with Homicide Investigator Gary McFadden,
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, September 21, 2000.


African American Internetwork: "Black Population Statistics Per American

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Crime Statistics (Years 1993/1994): Federal Bureau
of Investigation – North Carolina Uniform Crime (UCR) Program stats

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library System Archives – Newspaper Libray

"Charlotte's Web": The Community of Charlotte-Mecklenburg "Fact Sheet"

Joseph Geringer

Joseph Geringer, a Chicagoan, has worked full-time or on a

freelance basis as writer and editor for AT&T, the American
Hospital Association, Macmillan and other corporations. He
currently manages his own corporate support and design
business, specializing in helping small business owners conduct a
successful communications program. A history enthusiast, his
areas of concentration are the American Civil War and the
Prohibition Era. He is the author of several feature articles and
dramatic works on the Lincoln assassination, including a play about John Wilkes
Booth entitled Drown the Stage with Tears. As well, he wrote and produced Near To
Me, a three-act play that faithfully recreates three days in Chicago's Irish bungalow
belt in 1928.

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