Regarding the missing/murdered Black women/girls in the past, here are four profiles of the cases that didn't get much attention from mainstream media:
The Boston Murders
After 12 black women are murdered in Boston, a public outcry about the lack of media attention to violence against women of color leads to the formation of the Combahee River Collective.
The following paragraphs regarding the killings of 12 Black women in Boston in 1978-79 is from the Combahee River Collective Papers at Womanist Theory and Research at
” Nevertheless, when twelve Black women were murdered in Boston in 1979, the Black feminist agenda went into full effect.
Theory, Practice, and Action: Twelve Murders –The Final Act
The only research that has been done to date about the activism of the Combahee River Collective in response to the time when twelve Black women were murdered in Boston in 1979 is Jamie Grant’s unpublished article, “Who Is Killing Us?” According to Grant, between 28 January and 30 May 1979, thirteen women, twelve Black and one white, were murdered within a two-mile radius in the city of Boston. All but one of the victims were found in predominately Black neighborhoods in the contiguous districts of Roxbury, Dorchester, and the South End.25 Many of the women were strangled, with bare hands or a scarf or cord, and some were stabbed; two were buried after they were killed, and two were dismembered. Several of the women had been raped.26
Notorious at the time for its poor treatment of Blacks with the busing situation, the Black attorney who had been stabbed with an American flag, and for an attack on a Black high school football player, Boston reflected this social climate in its major newspaper, the Globe. The 30 January 1979 edition noted the discovery of the bodies of the first two murder victims, then unidentified, beside the racing forms on page thirty, in a four-paragraph description headlined, “Two bodies found in a trash bag.” On 31 January, the murder of Gwendolyn Yvette Stinson was noted on page thirteen under the head, “Dorchester girl found dead.” Caren Prater’s death, on 6 February, finally warranted a small block on the front page, followed by a confusing article about community outrage and police resources. On 7 February, on the eighth page of its Metro report, the Globe covered a community meeting with Mayor White at the Lee School in Dorchester, which more than 700 people attended.
The Globe took no responsibility for its complicity in the lack of public attention to the murders. When it did focus attention on the crimes, it was to attack the Black community’s response. Except for a small 17 February article on the murders, the Globe remained silent about the crisis until 21 February, when Daryl Ann Hargett was found in her apartment. Then, inside a small box in the lower left-hand corner of the front page, the Globe reported the death of the fifth Black woman in thirty days, misspelling Hargett’s first name.27 In contrast to the Globe, the Bay State Banner, the Black community weekly, ran full-blown coverage of the situation from 1 February, and reported on the Black community’s response. The Banner continued detailed, front-page coverage throughout the year.27
On 1 April, following the deaths of six Black women, fifteen hundred people took to the streets to mourn the losses of their sisters, daughters, mothers, friends. The memorial march commenced in Boston’s South End at the Harriet Tubman House, and paused first at the Wellington Street apartment of Daryl Ann Hargett, the fifth victim, who was found strangled on the floor of her bedroom:
By that time in April, six women had been murdered and there was a memorial march in the south end about the murders. It was a protest march. It was also trying to commemorate them, and there was a rally at the Stride-Rite factory field, and you heard things that had already been said, but the message came across — loud and clear from the almost entirely Black male speakers — that what Black women needed to do was stay in the house. That’s the way you saved yourself from being murdered. You stayed in the house and/or you found a man to protect you. If you were going to leave the house, you had to find a man to go with you to take care of you. And also, the murders were being viewed at time as being completely racial murders. It was all women, and some of the women had been sexually assaulted, but they were still seen as racial murders. There were a lot of feminist lesbians at that rally; so, there were at least some people there that, when they heard this message that these were just racial murders, our ears perked up, stood up, whatever, and we were thinking, “No, no, I don’t think so,” because there was something called violence against women that we were all too familiar with; and we just felt so — it was just such a difficult afternoon because at one level, we were grieving because Black women were being killed; we felt like we were at risk. We knew we were, in fact. We were scared. It was a very frightening time to be a Black woman in Boston. So, there was that kind of collective shared grieving, and then there was this real feeling of real fury. It was just infuriating, because we knew that it was not a coincidence that everybody who had been murdered was female, and as it turned out, by the time it was over, twelve Black women had been murdered. When the marchers reached the Stride Rite factory on Lenox Street in Roxbury, where the bodies of the first two women were found, Lorraine Bethel, who eventually co-edited Conditions Five with Barbara Smith, was there. Smith remembers Lorraine saying, “This is just horrible; we’ve got to do something.”28
Smith’s anger and frustration at the rally speakers’ failure to acknowledge sexism as a factor in the deaths of the women propelled her into action. She returned to her apartment in Roxbury and began developing a pamphlet that would speak to the fears of Black women in Boston:
I said, “I think we really need to do a pamphlet. We need to do something.” So, I started writing a pamphlet that night and I thought of the title — “Six Black Women: Why Did They Die?” — and I wrote it up. I always write everything longhand to begin with, and then I typed it. I had a little Smith Corona electric portable at that time. And by the next morning, it was basically done. I called other people in the Collective. The Collective was never huge, so I am not talking about called twenty people. But I called other people in the group and I read it to them. This was before faxes and all that madness. I read it to them and then I also called up Urban Planning Aid in Boston and went down there and got assistance with laying out the pamphlet, using my actual typing from my own typewriter at home.
Basically, what we wanted to say — and did say — in the pamphlet is that we had to look at these murders as both racist and sexist crimes and that we really needed to talk about violence against women in the Black community. We needed to talk about those women who did not have men as a buffer. Almost no woman has a man as a buffer between them and violence, because it doesn’t make any difference if you are married or heterosexual, whatever, all kinds of women are at risk for attack in different kinds of circumstances. And, in fact, most women are attacked by the men they know. So, obviously, having a man isn’t going to protect you from violence. But we really wanted to, first of all, get out that sexual political analysis about these murders. We wanted to do some consciousness-raising about what the murders meant. We also wanted to give women hope. So, the pamphlet had the statement, the analysis, the political analysis, and it said that it had been prepared by the Combahee River Collective. That was a big risk for us, a big leap to identify ourselves in something that we knew was going to be widely distributed. It also had a list of things that you can do to protect yourself. In other words, self-defense methods. I remember consulting with people, like some of the violence- against-women organizations, to really check out to make sure that the things that we were suggesting were usable and good and then, also, we had a list of organizations that were doing work on violence against women in Boston.
We got great support from the community churches. We got a lot of support from very diverse groups of people, but I must say, the larger white feminist community was incredibly supportive. It was a real opportunity to do some coalition-building, and we were able to mobilize hundreds and hundreds of people to come out and to speak out, to talk about the issue. We were able to bring together very diverse groups of people around the issue of violence against women. And we never felt that it had lost the focus on the fact that the women were Black. One thing we did say, though, is that “These are Black women who were being murdered. They could have been you.” It could have been any of us.29″
Those killings took place in Boston, a city nortorious for its racial polarization. The police there didn’t give two cents about the murdered Black women since they labeled them as “runaways”, “drug addicts”, and “prostitutes.”
The Eleanor Bumpers Case
Eleanor Bumpurs was an African American 300-pound woman in her late sixties. She was 5’8 and she was suffering from arthritis and diabetes. She also had children and grandchildren.
Eleanor lived in the Sedgwick houses in the Highbridge section the Bronx at 1551 University Avenue West 174th street. Her monthly rent was $89.44. She had failed to pay her rent for 5 months and now owed $387.40. The incident took place on Monday October 29, 1984 at 9:00 a.m.
Eleanor was assumed to be mentally ill by the housing commission and the police. On the day of the incident, she was found naked and hysterical in a room the size of a closet. On the morning of October 29th, an article in the New York Times on October 30th, 1984, stated that first Emergency service officers were alerted to the scene by the housing police. They approached her and saw that she had a 10-inch butchers knife. She lunged at one of the police officers (John Elter) but his partner, Stephen Sullivan, shot her in the chest with a shotgun. A second article in the New York Times on November 1st, 1984, states that after Miss Bumpurs being told by her daughter not to open her door for anyone, she was frightened and grabbed a knife in defense when her door was broken down. After an incident in 1979 where a man had been shot 21 times, the police’s new procedure was to send in men with restraining orders and plastic shield to deal with mentally ill people. After they cornered her and she swiftly dodged their shields and restraining prods, she hit one of the shields and attempted to stab an officer. She was then shot with a shotgun rather than a revolver because it was found to be more certain to stop the attacker. In yet another report in the New York Times on December 29th, 1984, a strong racial activist wrote in a semi-editorial that a SWAT team of 6 officers wearing bulletproof vests and carrying shields, clubs, and shotguns arrived at Eleanor Bumpurs apartment. When they broke through her door they found her naked and hysterical, in a small room the size of a closet. The report says they shot her hand, nearly amputating it. The loss of her right hand could be considered as payment for her debts. The officer could have let it go after that while she continuously apologized but instead he shot her in the chest.
OUR INTERPRETATION: We interpret all of this information to lead to an old obese woman who was always slow to pay her rent, was confronted by police officers with an unreasonable amount of equipment for just one old woman. She was terrified after her daughter warned her not to open the door so she grabbed a butcher’s knife when the men entered her apartment. After being restrained with metal prods, she used self-defense and tried to slash the men with her knife but missed, and was shot in the chest. She died soon after in the hospital.
ReactionsMany people were astonished and outraged that 6 police officers were needed to restrain a woman in her late sixties and that there was a need for her to be killed over rent payments. Many journalists wrote biased articles toward the police questioning procedures and need for deadly weapons. So many people felt strongly in outrage about the incident that it lead the mayor to organize a committee to question police procedures.
Stephen Sullivan, the 19-year veteran officer who killed Eleanor, was dismissed from manslaughter charges during his grand jury trial. Sullivan’s defense was that he shot in order to protect a fallen comrade who was in the path of Eleanor’s kitchen knife. Even though Eleanor was unnecessarily shot, instances such as this have been repeated many times since her death, even in neighborhoods very close to hers. In 1985, after her death, the mayor ordered a commission to redefine police procedures. But this attempt was lost because two years later, it was concluded that the police officer’s decisions were not based on race and very little in the procedure was changed in the future. Eleanor is still thought of as a symbol of police brutality. In our opinion, the police officers should have been convicted, and still to this day, police are able to get away with murder.
The South Side Murders
Silent Wraith: Chester TurnerBy slaying troubled black women, LA’s worst serial killer operated invisibly for years
By CHRISTINE PELISEK
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 - 6:00 pmUPDATE:
On May 15, 2007 Chester Turner was sentenced to death.
One Spring day in 1993, Jerri Johnson held a “repast dinner” for her 29-year-old murdered daughter, Andrea Tripplett. It was the end of a day marked by two burials: Andrea’s, and that of her 5-and-a-half-month-old fetus, poignantly laid to rest at her mother’s feet.
Close by — filling her home and backyard, bringing food and eating together — were family and friends, including a quiet and familiar neighborhood man, Chester Turner.
Turner joined other mourners “in the backyard, eating my food,” Johnson says. Widely known for his violent temper, he hung around the nearby liquor store on Figueroa and 76th streets and earned the nickname “Cisco” for a wine cooler he favored. Standing around, says Johnson — “that is what [Turner] was known for.”
He also used to walk the streets near his home with a buddy named Elliott, hang out with the local prostitutes on Figueroa, and get in brawls with neighborhood kids. “He was known in the neighborhood as someone who was off his rocker when he got mad,” says a close friend who has always known Turner — but refused to be identified.
As Turner awaits sentencing on 11 murder convictions for slaying one fetus and 10 young and middle-aged women in downtown and South L.A. over an incredible 11 years, a tale has emerged of a silent wraith who lived where he killed — and killed with impunity.
Police believe Turner, an often unemployed father of four with a history of violent relationships, so seamlessly fit into the troubled streets of L.A. that he even killed while he worked “security” at the old Midnight Mission, where he lived for a time. So brazen was he that he showed up — and chowed down — at the funeral dinner held for his pregnant victim Andrea Tripplett.
Said by police to be the most prolific serial killer in Los Angeles city history, with 13 dead women and two fetuses linked to his DNA, Turner was charged with killing 10 of those women and one fetus, all found within 20 blocks of his various homes and flophouses. The murder sites create a horrific map of sorts — with Turner’s address always close to the mayhem.
He was such a successful chameleon that the cops spent years looking for entirely different suspects. Harriet Evans, a friend of victims Tripplett and Desarae Jones, tells L.A. Weekly that Turner “didn’t look suspicious because we saw him all the time. . . . He played us — he knew that area.” Police blamed big, brooding Chester’s murders on a composite dubbed the South Side Slayer, possibly with a Caribbean accent, possibly a pockmarked face. Those dozens of murders turned out to be the work of several men, including Turner.
TV and print media barely noticed his killings of mostly black women such as Tripplett with promiscuous lives, “strawberries” who traded casual sex for drugs — who nevertheless didn’t deserve to die. But there’s little argument that those 15 deaths would have been global news had the women been from Santa Monica or Silver Lake.
Dr. Jeff Victoroff, associate professor of clinical neurology and psychiatry at the University of Southern California, says, “Society tends to focus on dramatic explosions of violence against people with whom they identify,” so when drug-using minority women die, “it usually fails to stimulate much public outrage… There might even be in some people’s minds some kind of moral difference drawn.”
Turner seemed to mine this truism about the mean streets. Truc Do, one of two prosecutors during Turner’s five-week trial, says, “Their addiction made them an invisible class… On the fringes of society.” In the end, it took an extremely unusual act by a troubled victim, who broke through her own indifference bred of street life and drugs, to report Turner’s brutal rape to police. Thanks to the guts of Maria Martinez, Turner is widely expected to get the death penalty.
“I never thought that he was that kind of person,” says the longtime friend who never suspected a thing. While Turner’s mother could be too tough on him as a teen, “locking the food up” and making him wait outside until she got home from work, “You have to deal with those things. I knew he had problems — but I never thought he would go out and kill people.”
Read more of this at:
Here’s a quote from the article regarding the murdered Black women:
“In some ways, Chester Turner is still, despite his ghoulish new place in city history, an invisible ghost. One recent day during his trial in the Criminal Courts Building downtown, no crowds pressed forward to catch a glimpse of him. The area around the courthouse was crowded — but the media and onlookers were there to see music legend Phil Spector, on trial in the murder of a beautiful blond actress — the kind of story the media can get behind.
How did Chester Turner, who the relatives of one victim say was dubbed by his classmates in school “Chester the Molester,” fall so utterly through the cracks? Looking back, it seems obvious.
The 1980s were a violent time, with a crack epidemic, a PCP epidemic — and the city still reeling from mass murders and serial killings that began in 1969 when Charles Manson and his followers committed the sensational Tate-LaBianca murders.
The “Skid Row Slasher,” Vaughn Greenwood, terrorized transients, cutting their throats as they slept. The “Freeway Killer,” William Bonin, an unemployed Downey truck driver, was convicted of murdering and raping 14 boys and men in Orange and Los Angeles counties in 1979 and 1980. Then came “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez, convicted in 1989 of 13 horrific torture-murders.
Beyond those ghastly cases, Southside cops had their hands full when the bodies of victims started to pile up along the Figueroa Corridor, a 30-block-long area known for its prostitution, drugs and desperation.
“We were averaging 25 to 30 murders a year, with two detectives,” recalls Detective Victor Pietrantoni, who worked the Southeast Division. “When I left Southeast after three years I had just shy of 100 murder investigations.”
Yet even against all that background noise, in April 1985, authorities began to suspect that a serial killer was afoot, when the bodies of mostly black prostitutes were found dumped in parks, alleys, along unpaved roadsides and even in a schoolyard.
USC’s Victoroff tells the Weekly that despite the belief of police that Turner could be the most prolific killer in city history, his trial is relegated to the inside local pages of the Los Angeles Times and rates only passing mention in other media outlets because the victims “aren’t beautiful young starlets.”
Awaiting his guilty verdict on Monday, Jerri Johnson, the mother of victim Andrea Tripplett, snapped at a Times reporter for describing most of the slain women as “prostitutes,” saying, “My daughter wasn’t a prostitute!” She later wept openly, tears streaming down her face.
The families of the dead wonder what kind of horrible fame Chester Turner would have earned in Los Angeles had he murdered downtown secretaries or well-to-do tourists. But even worse are the questions that haunt those who were close to Turner — and never suspected anything.
Today, an elderly woman in South Los Angeles who knew Turner all his life says he could at times be like Jekyll and Hyde, but ‘I never would have thought nothing like that.’ ”
The Henry Louis Wallace Case
Although Mr. Wallace as eventually arrested, tried and convicted to death in 1997, many people in Charlotte’s Black community felt that they didn’t do enough to solve the murders of pretty young Black women between 1992 and 1994, the year of his arrest. Here’s the article from Wikipedia below:
Henry Louis Wallace (November 4, 1965 - ) is an American serial killer who killed 10 young attractive Black women in Charlotte, N.C. from May 1992 until March 12, 1994.
Mr. Wallace behaviour toward women was chivalrous in public. However, he had another side to him when he killed his victims, usually at night and alone. The murdered young women knew and trusted him well enough to let him into their homes. He filed a missing person report on Caroline Love the day after she was missing, accompanying Love’s sister and Sadie McKnight to the police station in June 1992. Other victims were strangled or stabbed during his two-year reign of terror that wrecked East Charlotte.
He was arrested on March 13, 1994 after the bodies of three young women were found in East Charlotte. A crack addict, Wallace confessed to murdering 10 young Black women in Charlotte, N.C. between 1992 and 1994. He was arraigned on March 16, 1994. Some community leaders and activists as well as victims’ rights groups such as Mothers of Murdered Offspring complained to the press that Charlotte Police Department didn’t do much to solve the murders because the women were African American.
He was tried for the murders of nine women in 1996. Mr. Wallace was convicted and sentenced to death on January 29, 1997. He’s currently on death row at Central Prison.
Henry Louis Wallace was born in Barnwell, S.C., on November 4, 1965, son of Lottie Mae Wallace and a married school teacher who walked out on Lottie while pregnant with Henry and who never acknowledged his son. Mr. Wallace grew up in extreme poverty, with Lottie Mae working long hours as a textile worker. His mother was a harsh displinarian, constantly criticizing Henry for even the smallest mistakes. In spite of all this, he was a very popular high school student, having been elected to student council and an extremely popular male cheerleader at Barnwell High School in Barnwell, S.C. Mr. Wallace graduated from that school in 1983. He became a deejay for a local radio station in Barnwell. His smooth, sexy voice swayed women so much that earned him the nickname “The Night Rider.” He went to several colleges before joining the U.S. Navy in 1985. Wallace married his high school sweetheart, the former Maretta Brabham in 1987. In 1988, Wallace was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy.
His criminal activities began while being stationed in the U.S. Navy . This is the time when he started experimenting with various drugs. In Washington State, he was served warrants for several burglaries in and around Seattle metro area. In January 1988, Mr. Wallace got into his first real trouble with police. He broke into a Bremerton garden and hardware store, and as he carted away a TV, videocassette recorder and microwave, police arrested him.
In June 1988, Wallace pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary. A judge sentenced him to two years of supervised probation. According to Probation officer Patrick Seaburg, Wallace didn’t show up for most mandatory meetings.
In early 1990, he met an 18-year old high school student Tashanda Bethea. He dated her for a while. In March 1990, Henry murdered Tashonda Bethea, then dumped her in a lake in Barnwell, S.C., his hometown. It wasn’t until weeks later that her body was discovered. He was questioned by the police regarding her disappearance and death. He was never formally charged in her murder. He was also questioned in connection with the attempted rape of a 16-year old Barnwell girl. She accuse Wallace of attempting to rape her at a local motel. However, his mother told the girl’s family to dropped the charges. He was never charged. By that time, his marriage to Maretta fell apart due to emotional and psychological toll. It was aroung that period that he was fired from his job as Chemical Operator for for Sandoz Chemical Co.
Things have gone from bad to worse for Mr. Wallace. In February 1991, he broke into his old high school and the radio station where he once worked. He stole video and recording equipment and was caught trying to pawn them.
In November 1991, he relocated to Charlotte, N. C. He found jobs at several fast-food restaurants in East Charlotte. Around the same time, he met various attractive young Black women whom he dated, one of them is Sadie McKnight. In May 1992, he picked up Sharon Nance, a convicted drug dealer and prostitute. When she demanded payment for her services, Henry mercilessly beat her to death, then dropped her body by the railroad tracks. She was found few days later. Then he sets his evil designs upon the lovely Caroline Love. He brutally strangled her at her apartment, then dumped her body in a wooded area. After he killed her, he and Caroline’s sisters filed a missing person’s report at the police station. It would be almost two years later (March 1994) before the police find her body. It would be nine months later before he killed again, this time setting his deadly designs at this beautiful princess.
Mr. Wallace went looking for Shawna Denise Hawk in February 1993. He murdered her after visiting her at her home on February 19, 1993. Ms. Hawk was a college student studying to become a paralegal at the time of her death. He was once her boss at Taco Bell in East Charlotte. In January 1993, a month before Shawna was murdered, Mr. Wallace went to the wrong house looking for Ms. Hawk, but found a then 10-year old girl home alone. He ran around the back of her house and jumped over the fence. The girl feared for her safety. Shawna came to the girl’s rescue and offer to babysit for her until her parents came home. Ms. Hawk did this until two weeks before her untimely death. Mr. Wallace may have been stalking Shawna since January 1993. He came to Shawna’s funeral in late February. He offered his sympathy to her mother. A month later, March 1993, Shawna’s mother, Dee Sumpter and her godmother Judy Williams founded Mothers of Murder Offspring, a Charlotte-based support group for parents who lost their children to murder.
Three months has passed and this time he claimed another victim he knew. This time he targeted his friend and co-worker Audrey Spain. He killed her on June 22. Her friends were looking for her when she didn’t show up for work at Taco Bell. Her body was found two days later.
A little over a month later, on August 10, 1993, Mr. Wallace strikes again, this time taking young, ambitious, and very popular college student Valencia M. Jumper. She was the sister of Vanessa Jumper and was a good friend of Henry’s sister, Yvonne. He came over to her house that night because of difficulties with his girlfriend. He wanted to be consoled that night. Instead, he strangled Valencia, then set her on fire to cover up his crime. A few days after the murder, he and his sister went to Valencia’s funeral.
A month later, in September 1993, he went to the apartment of Michelle Stinson, a struggling college student and single mother of two sons. He strangled and stabbed her in front of her oldest son. She was his last victim of 1993.
As community pressure mounted in the wake of Charlotte’s high crime rate, Mr. Wallace took a break from criminal activity. One reason is the birth of his only child in October. Another is that community activists were protesting the lack of concern regarding Black crime victims in Northern and Eastern Charlotte neighborhoods. They contended that the police didn’t solve the murders of Blacks aggressively as they have done with White victims in South Charlotte and that the police and the general community didn’t care for the safety of residents who had to live in such crime-ridden areas.
On February 20, the day after the anniversary of Shawna Hawk’s death and Dee Sumpter’s pleas to the media to help solve her daughter’s murder, Mr. Wallace killed Vanessa Little Mack in her apartment. His crack habit was very strong at the time and he was on the lookout for money to support the habit. He targeted Ms. Mack because she had a good job and income. Her mother-in-law, Barbara Rippy found her dead. Her four-month old daughter was alright. Ms. Mack had two daughters, aged seven and fourn months at the time of her death.
On March 8, 1994, Mr. Wallace went to the apartment of his longtime friend Vernon Lamar Woods, with the intention of robbing, raping and murdering Woods’s girlfriend, Brandi Henderson. Brandi was the mother of 10-month old Tareese Woods. Brandi, Vernon, and Mr. Wallace once worked at the Golden Corral and have been good friends since. Brandi’s boyfriend was home, foiling his motive in coming over there in the first place. He realized he knew someone else that lived in the apartment complex: His girlfriend’s best friend.
Betty Jean Baucom, who worked with his girlfriend Sadie McKnight at Bojangles. Betty was the assistant manager. When Betty Jean Baucom answered the door on that same day, Wallace told her he needed to use her phone. She was more than glad to help her friend, Sadie McKnight who was Henry’s boyfriend. He demanded keys, the safe, and the alarm code for Bojangles in order to rob the place to support his drug addiction. Baucom resisted, refusing to give them to him. Finally, she surrendered. According to Wallace’s confession, Baucom stood up and told him that she forgave him. Wallace strangled her to death. Afterwards, he took valuables from the house. Then he left the apartment with her car. He pawned everything except the car, which he left at a shopping center.
Mr. Wallace went back to the same apartment complex on the night of March 8,1994, knowing that Vernon Woods would be at work so he could murder his girlfriend Brandi June Henderson. Earlier in the day he came to the couple’s house admiring the new entertainment center the couple bought with their income tax refund money. Wallace strangled Henderson that night. Tarresse cried loudly. That startled Mr. Wallace. He then went to the couple’s bathroom to get a towel. He tied it tightly around the Tarreese’s neck. Then he took the valuables inside the apartment and left afterwards.
The police beefed up patrols in east Charlotte after two bodies of young Black women were found in the same apartment complex. While the police patrolling the neighborhood, Mr. Wallace stopped by at an apartment of a woman he knew before.
It was Deborah Ann Slaughter. Ms. Slaughter, who relocated from Atlanta the year before and a mother of an 18-year-old son. She used to worked at Bojangles, where his girlfriend worked. He came to her house asking for money for drugs. He stabbed and strangled her. Then he stole a few things upon leaving the apartment. Her body was found March 12, 1994.
Wallace was arrested on March 13, 1994. For 12 hours, he confessed to the murders of 10 Black women in Charlotte. He described the womens’ appearances, how he raped, robbed and killed the women in detailed descriptions, and of his crack habit.
The Aftermath and Criticism
On March 13,1994, Henry Louis Wallace was arrested for killing 10 young women. Charlotte’s police chief congratulated his arrest, reassuring the community that the women of East Charlotte are safe, now that the killer is behind bars. Many people, especially in the Black community wondered why the murders weren’t solved soon enough and that Charlotte Police didn’t consider the murders of 10 young Black women between 1992 and 1994 high on the priority list. As Shawna Denise Hawk’s mother, Dee Sumpter said concerning police neglect:
the victims “weren’t prominent people with social-economic status. They weren’t special. And they were black. "
Charlotte’s police chief, Rod Steiger was stumped by a serial killer in their midst. He said he wasn’t aware of a killer until early March 1994 when three young Black women were murdered within four days of each other. Charlotte Police Department apologized to its residents for not spotting a link among the murders sooner. However, they said the murder cases varied enough to throw them off Wallace’s trail. Until the Mr. Wallace’s murder pace picked up in the early weeks of March 1994, the deaths were sporadic and not entirely similar. It was only in the week of March 9, 1994 that Charlotte Police warned the people in East Charlotte that there was a serial killer on the loose.
One young lady said that the police didn’t care because the police viewed the young female murder victims as “fast girls who hang out a lot.” The victims were not the type. They were described by both the press and family members as pretty, hardworking, and serious young women. Others said the reason why the police didn’t take the murder cases serious because the women were both working class and Black.
Inside The Trial
After two years of hearing confessions, debates on whether to hold the trial in Charlotte, the DNA evidence from murdered victims, and the jury selection, his trial began in September 1996. In the opening arguments, the prosecutor argues for the death penaly while the defense attorney pleaded for life sentence for Mr. Wallace. The prosecutor told the jurors to sympathize with the victims and that Mr. Wallace’s crimes were heinous and cruel, while the defense urge them to consider Mr. Wallace dire circumstances and his mental illness as mitigating factors in giving him life in prison instead of the death penalty.
In the opening argument, the Assistant District Attorney Marsha Goodenow urge the jury to think about the victims and how they died heinously by Mr. Wallace. She told the jurors that the victims have several things in common:
“They were African American women, all young, all very attractive, she said. “They all knew the defendant and they all died at his hands. "
Public Defender Isabel Day told the victims’ families and jurors that Mr. Wallace was a man driven by hideous fantasies and disabled by mental illness rooted in childhood. Furthermore, Ms. Day said defense evidence will show that the killings were not first-degree murder because they didn’t result from “premeditation and deliberation.
According to FBI serial murder expert Robert Ressler:
“If he elected to become a serial killer, he was going about it in the wrong way,’ said Robert Ressler, one of the “Mr. Wallace always seemed to take one step forward and two steps back,” Ressler testified. ‘He would take items and put them in the stove to destroy them by burning them and then forget to turn the stove on.”
Psychologist Faye Sultan testified during the trial that Mr. Wallace was constant victim of physical and mental abuse from his mother since birth and that he suffered from mental illness at the time of the killings. Ms. Sultan argues for life sentence without parole instead of the death penalty.
Ms. Goodenow argued that Mr. Wallace deserved death because he is a calculating, cold-blooded killer who preyed on friends and co-workers and hid his crimes by cleaning up murder scenes.
Defense attorneys, Day and Cooney, on the other hand, did not dispute the fact that Mr. Wallace killed the nine young Black women. They argued he was mentally ill and drug addicted at the time of the killings, driven by obsessional sexual fantasies that rendered him incapable of forming the intent to kill. Ms. Day and Mr. Cooney wanted a second-degree murder conviction in hopes of avoiding a death sentence.
On January 7, 1997, he was found guilty of nine murders and on January 29, 1997, he was sentenced to nine consecutive death sentences. Mr. Wallace said nothing during his trial for murdering and raping nine women. After being sentenced to death, he broke his silence to apologize to the victims’ families.
“None of these women, none of your daughters, mothers, sisters or family mem
bers in any way deserved what they got. They did nothing to me that warranted their death,”
Wiping tears, Wallace sat down as George Burrell, Brandi June Henderson’s cousin shouted:
“Why did you kill them?”
After The Trial
On June 5, 1998, Henry Louis Wallace, was married to a former prison nurse, Rebecca Torrijas, in a ceremony next to the execution chamber where he has been sentenced to die. Mecklenburg County public defender Isabel Day, served as an official witness and photographer. Also attending was the manager of the death-row unit at the prison.
Since being sentenced to death in 1997, Mr. Wallace has been appealing to the courts to overturn the death sentences, stating that his confessions were coerced and his constitutional rights were violated in the process.
In 2005, Superior Court Judge Charles Lamm rejected Wallace’s latest appeal to overturn his convictions and nine death sentences, moving him another step closer to execution.
The legal battle to save Wallace, now 41, has already been through the state and federal courts. The N.C. Supreme Court upheld the death sentences in 2000. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2001 denied his appeal. Lamm’s rejection is the first in a second round of appeals that will likely wind through state and federal courts again in the next few years.
No execution date is being set for Mr. Wallace to this day.
The victims described in news reports and the victims’ families accounts were young, beautiful Black women between the ages of 18 and 35. Majority of Mr. Wallace’s victims were petite as well. Some were mothers of young children, others were pretty young college students.
Sharon Lavette Nance
Shawna D. Hawk
Audrey Ann Spain
Valencia M. Jumper
Vanessa Little Mack
Betty Jean Baucom
Brandi June Henderson
The Serial Killer the Cops Ignored:The Henry Louis Wallace Murders by Jason Lapeyre1Various Newspaper sources, mainly The Charlotte Observer, The Augusta(GA)Chronicle, New York Times, News and Observer(Raleigh, N.C.), and USA Today.
“HENRY LOUIS WALLACE: A CALAMITY WAITING TO HAPPEN” By Joseph
The Serial Killer The Cops Ignore by Jason Lepeyre
Message Board Regarding Henry L. Wallace and His Victims
Here’s a correspondence from a former neighbor of Shawna Hawk’s regarding police neglect. Before Ms. Hawk was murdered, Mr. Wallace broke into her home next to Shawna’s. She was 10 years old at the time. She didn’t give out her name when writing to me about the incident. Here’s the correspondence:
“Not sure if you’d find this significant enough to add or not but a month before Shawna was killed in January, a man (later identiified as Mr. Wallace) kicked open the door to my home. I was Ms. Hawks’ next door neighbor. I was in 5th grade at the time and home alone. The person rang the doorbell and knocked several times. I didn’t answer of course, and he became agitated and kicked the door open. From what I’ve been told, it was later determined that he was looking for Shawna, and came to the wrong home. He ran around the back of my house and jumped over the fence. It was a month later that he returned and killed her. After our home was broken into, Shawna offered to watch me afterschool, so I wouldn’t be home alone. I stayed with her everyday after school for two weeks. She would watch me until one of my parents got home from work around 5pm. In early February I went to her house as usual and she didn’t answer the door. She didn’t watch me anymore after that. There was never an explanation for why she stopped watching me, but she was killed two weeks after. Mr. Wallace came during the time that I would’ve been there with her. I’ve always wondered if she knew he was capable of something and she was concerned for my safety. I ended up staying with a different neighbor, until my family moved in March after she was killed.”
“I agree with you about him getting what he deserves. I will never forget the look on his face when he came to my door, he was cold and he didn’t care. I didn’t attend the funeral. I was only 10 at the time and I went and stayed with my grandmother while my parents packed us up and moved us away. In my opinion the police really bumbled this one. For example, when our home was broken into, I called my mother, and she called 911, it took the police nearly 45 minutes to arrive at our home, and they did NOTHING, no dusting for fingerprints, no nothing. Mr. Wallace wasn’t exactly careful with his crimes, he could’ve been caught sooner, had the police tried harder. So many young women’s lives could’ve been saved. Once again, merely my opinion but they didn’t care because the victims were black and came from poor neighborhoods. Our neighborhood, off Camp Greene Street and Freedom Drive, was as poor as they come, but we were tight-knit. Shawna was an angel. She came to me at a time when I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I intentionally wouldn’t get on the bus because I was afraid to go home, and she stepped up to the plate and helped me, and I’ll never forget that. She is greatly missed.”
Dee Sumpter, Shawna’s mother have something to say regarding the police nonchalance when it came to her daughter’s death:
“These were common, everyday, hard-working individuals. They weren’t prominent people with social-economic status. They weren’t special.and they were black.”
“Are you going to tell me that if they had done a little digging Henry’s name would not have come up? Are you going to tell me that this doesn’t reek of blatant incompetency and racism?”