Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Henry Louis Wallace Serial Murder Case- 20 Years Later

Henry Louis Wallace Murder Case- 20 Years Later

Some of the victims of Henry Louis Wallace, Shawna Denise Hawk and Betty Jean(Susie) Baucum

It has been 20 years ago today that I first heard about a serial killer killing beautiful young Black and Biracial women in Charlotte.  I was only 22 years old in 1994.  I was horrified that someone went around the neighborhood slaughtering women at their prime.  Those women didn't get a chance to see their future. No college graduations(although Valencia M. Jumper was given a posthumous degree from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte), mo weddings(several of the victims were engaged). No chance to see their children grow up, graduate, have careers, get married and have children of their own. That wicked, evil man senselessly took their lives between 1990 and 1994.  His name is Henry Louis Wallace.

Henry L. Wallace was born in Barnwell, S.C. in November 1965.  He was raised by his mother and never met his father who was a schoolteacher who died a long time ago.  His childhood was marked with great unhappiness and abuse, with much of the abuse came from his mother.  Despite his woeful circumstances, he became a popular student at Barnwell High School.  He participated in extracurricular activities, even tried out as a male cheerleader and ran for the school student council.  He graduated there in 1983 and moved to Washington State to join the U.S. Navy.  He was honorably discharged in 1987.  In that year, he married a local girl.  That marriage fell apart later. 

 In the late 80s and early 90s,  Mr. Wallace has committed various crimes, including robbery.  It wasn't until 1990 that he killed Tashonda Bethea.  She was killed in February 1990.  Her badly decomposed body was found in a pond by two fishermen a month later.  Mr. Wallace was the suspect, yet the police let him off because of technical difficulties and that they didn't find evidence on him.  To me, Barnwell Police Department did a poor job in investigating Ms. Bethea's murder. From then on, he got into trouble at work, stealing items from Barnwell's radio station where he once worked as a DJ.

Sometime in 1992, he relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina. He found jobs at several fast-food restaurants in East Charlotte.  Most employers hired him on the spot because he was articulate and intelligent.

In May 1992, he picked up Sharon Nance, a convicted drug dealer and prostitute. When she demanded payment for her services, Wallace beat her to death, then dropped her body by the railroad tracks. She was found a few days later.

In June 1992, he raped and strangled Caroline Love at her apartment, then dumped her body in a wooded area. Love was a friend of Wallace's girl-friend.[1] After he killed her, he and her sister filed a missing person's report at the police station. It would be almost two years (March 1994) before her body was discovered in a wooded area in Charlotte.
On February 19, 1993, Wallace strangled Shawna Hawk at her home after first having sex with her, and later went to her funeral. Hawk worked at Taco Bell where Wallace was her supervisor. In March 1993, Hawk's mother, Dee Sumpter, and her godmother Judy Williams founded Mothers of Murder Offspring, a Charlotte-based support group for parents of murdered children.

On June 22, he raped and strangled coworker Audrey Spain, whom he once dated and even officiated as the DJ at her birthday party.  Her body was found two days later.

On August 10, 1993, Wallace raped and strangled Valencia M. Jumper -- a friend of his sister's -- then set her on fire to cover up his crime.] A few days after her 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. Stinson was a friend of his from Taco Bell. He raped her and then some time later strangled and stabbed her in front of her oldest son.[1]

That October, his only child was born.

On February 4, 1994 Wallace was arrested for shoplifting, but police had not made a connection between him and the murders.

On February 20, 1994, Wallace strangled Vanessa Little Mack, one of his employees from Taco Bell, in her apartment. Mack had two daughters, aged seven and four months, at the time of her death.

On March 8, 1994, Wallace robbed and strangled Betty Jean Baucom. Baucom and Wallace's girlfriend were co-workers. Afterwards, he took valuables from the house, then he left the apartment with her car.[1] He pawned everything except the car, which he left at a shopping center.

Wallace went back to the same apartment complex on the night of March 8, 1994, knowing that Berness Woods would be at work so he could murder his girlfriend, Brandi June Henderson. Wallace raped Henderson while she held her baby, and then strangled her. He also strangled her son, but he survived. Afterwards, he took some valuables from the apartment and left.

The police beefed up patrols in east Charlotte after two bodies of young black women were found at The Lake apartment complex. Even so, Wallace sneaked through to rob and strangle Deborah Ann Slaughter, who had been a co-worker of his girl-friend, and stabbed her some 38 times in the stomach and chest.[1] Her body was found on March 12, 1994.

Wallace was arrested on March 13, 1994. For 12 hours, he confessed to the murders of 10 women in Charlotte. He described in detail, the women's appearances, how he raped, robbed and killed the women, and his crack habit.

The Video:  Charlotte Tragedy: The Nine Victims of Henry Louis Wallace

From Charlotte Magazine:  1993:  Charlotte's Deadliest Year

"Two miles away, Dee Sumpter was happy to move to Elon Street that year. A single mother of four, she was thrilled to be buying a house. And although parts of the west side were sketchy, her block was close-knit, she says.
Aside from one burglary, the neighborhood was pretty quiet.
She and her 20-year-old daughter Shawna Hawk settled into life there. Dee worked as a receptionist and Shawna took classes at Central Piedmont Community College while also working at an east side Taco Bell. They watched TV and read the papers, even stumbled on a crime scene once driving to the grocery store. But the crime didn’t really touch their lives. 
“That was something that happened to other people,” Sumpter says. “On February 19, 1993, I became ‘other people.’ ”
That’s the day she found Shawna strangled in the bathtub. It took more than a year for police to connect her murder to others, to figure out that someone was killing young black women who had worked in east side fast food restaurants. The homicide unit was stretched thin. And this serial killer had an unusual M.O. Shawna Hawk was Henry Louis Wallace’s third victim. He would kill seven more before confessing in March 1994.  Wallace had been Hawk’s boss at Taco Bell. He even showed up at her funeral.
Sumpter now describes the weeks and months after Shawna’s murder as the “pinnacle of pain. I remember lying in bed and thinking ‘I don’t want to be here anymore.’ ” Her lifelong friend Judy Williams thought Sumpter needed a new purpose. The pair, along with Williams’s son and present-day City Councilman David Howard, thought a support group for mothers of other murder victims could help channel some of their pain. So in March 1993, Mothers of Murdered Offspring (MOMO) started meeting.
Beyond supporting other victims’ families, Sumpter began to advocate for changes to police department procedures, saying detectives were not doing enough to solve Shawna’s murder and others. It was a tense relationship. She made some enemies on the force. But today, she says, her organization and the department’s homicide support group work together to help victims’ family members cope."

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 Crimes

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
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.

The victims:
Tashanda Bethea
Sharon Lavette Nance
Caroline Love
Shawna D. Hawk
Audrey Ann Spain
Valencia M. Jumper
Michelle Stinson
Vanessa Little Mack
Betty Jean Baucom
Brandi June Henderson
Deborah Slaughter


jane franklin said...

I live near Charlotte and when I read the young women's obituaries I noticed many of them had worked in the food service industry. Early in I told someone that the police should check the employees records for the food establishments and see if one male would keep showing up because he must have been meeting these girls on the job. I naturally assumed the police were doing that. I was wrong, they evidently didn't bother to notice. They didn't even bother to notice they had a serial killer until several young women were murdered. I noticed after the third girl. Worst of all they seemed to be unaware that black people can be serial killers too. So many things about this case are heartbreaking and some good police work could have saved
several girls lives if the police had been dedicated from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

I just viewed a retrospective on this case on the ID Channel. I had no idea about any of this. What a tragedy and sad ugly blemish on our beautiful city.

Anonymous said...

I knew Henry Louis Wallace. We grew up in adjoining towns in South Carolina. He was in Barnwell, I was in the Allendale-Fairfax area. He was a DJ at our local radio station, WBAWm and he also DeeJayed at all of the popular night clubs at that time. My brother and my former sister-in- law were also DeeJays at the same radio station with him.
His stage name was "The Midnight Rider," and he would always wear a cowboy type hat when deejaying. I'm sure that name had great and dark significance to him that we did not know about. Henry was also friends with several of my family members who were in the club scene. One thing that sticks out in my mind is that he loved hanging out with girls all the time. In fact, one of the girls that he used to hang out with and date was my friend's Aunt. She was found strangled in her shower and until this day, no killer was named. Me and people from our town and even the police in my town, suspect that Henry killed her too. When the police from South Carolina visited him in Charlotte to inquire about the murder in South Carolina after he was arrested for the murders in Charlotte, he was no longer "talking." It has been said that whenever Henry went to a town, a black girl was either missing or dead. Somebody once said that though Henry befriended and dated alot of girls he didn't real seem to like girls and that he always seemed "like a girl trapped in a guy's body."
We talk about Henry every now and then. My mother told me one day before she died that she was so glad that I never tried to connect with Henry after we both moved to Charlotte area from South Carolina. She is not the only one who's glad.

Koota said...

It's so sad what happened to these young women my Grandmother escaped I wish someone could have saved them.

Raven Bodiford said...

I live in barnwell. This is crazy. He probably has more victims.


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