New Jersey serial killer, who used social media to attract and kill women, turns 160 – NBC New York
What there is to know
- A New Jersey man who used dating apps to lure and kill three women five years ago was sentenced to 160 years in prison on Wednesday after a trial in which it was revealed that a victim’s friends had does their own social media detective work to find the suspect.
- Khalil Wheeler-Weaver, 25, stood still as the judge handed down sentence in Newark State Court.
- The conviction was preceded by moving statements from family members of victims Robin West and Sarah Butler.
A New Jersey man who used dating apps to lure and kill three women five years ago was sentenced to 160 years in prison on Wednesday after a trial in which it was revealed that a victim’s friends had does their own social media detective work to find the suspect.
Khalil Wheeler-Weaver, 25, stood still as the judge handed down sentence in Newark State Court. The conviction was preceded by moving statements from family members of victims Robin West and Sarah Butler.
In a brief statement before speaking, Wheeler-Weaver denied responsibility, telling Superior Court Judge Mark S. Ali that he had been trapped. Wheeler-Weaver’s mother, aunt and brother were seated in the gallery but did not address the courtyard.
The sentences covered three murders, one attempted murder and other charges including kidnapping, aggravated arson and desecration of human remains.
The Essex County District Attorney’s Office credited friends of Montclair student Butler with using social media to help police find Wheeler-Weaver. They gained access to his social media accounts, created a fake account, lured Wheeler-Weaver to a meeting in Montclair and notified police, prosecutors said.
A fourth woman who survived an attack and testified at the Wheeler-Weaver trial also provided crucial information that helped investigators as the details of her attack were similar to those of the other victims.
In Wednesday’s sentencing, Tiffany Taylor described how the attack changed her life.
âMy whole life is different; I don’t wear makeup anymore; I have no friends. I am still paranoid. But I am happy to be still here â, she declared, before addressing the judge:â I hope you do not show him any remorse, because he does not show any remorse. “
Prosecutors presented evidence at trial that Wheeler-Weaver, then 20, used dating apps to entice women for sex and then strangled them. Their bodies were found between September and December 2016 in northern New Jersey. Investigators also presented evidence from Wheeler-Weaver’s cell phone that placed him where the victims went missing and their bodies were found.
Essex County Assistant District Attorney Adam Wells noted on Wednesday that the murders had been separated by several weeks, giving Wheeler-Weaver a chance to consider his actions before killing again.
âThe accused believed that these victims were disposable. They were killed, then he went on with his day as if nothing had happened, âhe said. âBut each of these women’s lives mattered. “
West, a 19-year-old from Philadelphia, was seen getting into a car with Wheeler-Weaver on the night of August 31, 2016 and was killed within hours, prosecutors said. They alleged that Wheeler-Weaver dumped his body in an abandoned house not far from his own home in Orange, near Newark, and set the house on fire. It took about two weeks to identify his remains.
West’s mother Anita Mason described an at times stubborn young woman who often showed a softer side.
âI will never forget his smile, his face, his walk, his desire to help the homeless,â Mason said Wednesday. âThe world is focused on the last month of his life. She had a whole life before she disappeared. Hundreds of people were affected by his life and were saddened by his death. “
Joanne Brown, 33, of Newark, was killed about a month after West was identified and also dumped in an abandoned house in Orange, but her body was not discovered until six weeks later. Butler went missing around Thanksgiving 2016, about a month after Brown’s death, and his remains were discovered in a wooded area four days before Brown’s body was found. Both women had been strangled with clothes.
Butler’s father Victor on Wednesday urged the judge to give Wheeler-Weaver the maximum sentence. Then, turning to the accused, he said:
“I hope you are in pain, my boy, every night.”