Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Henry Louis Wallace

The Confession

Henry Wallace
Henry 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 deadweight to his car. Returning to her apartment, he grabbed a roll of quarters he saw lying on her dresser.

Securing the body out of sight from passersby, he drove to the city limits near dark Stevenson Road, passed some construction horses, and dumped the body off on the side of the road where he thought it wouldn't be seen.

"About two days later I went back, and the body had almost decayed to the point where she looked just like leather, an ET doll, or something. Her body had decayed so bad. I went back about a week later and the only thing left was bones."

The Hawk Murder

Wallace claimed he had had no intention of killing young Shawna Hawk, but stopped by merely to chat with her. She had just come in from school her mother was not home and the two shared idle gossip for about an hour. She started teasing him, however, about a recent fight he had had with Sadie McKnight. Her remarks ruffled him.

"That's when I rendered the choke hold on her until she passed out. And then I filled the bathtub with water and placed her in it."

Before he left, he removed $50 from her purse.

The Spain Murder

Audrey Spain had just returned from vacation when Wallace sought her out. His excuse for visiting her was to share a joint together. But he had another reason: robbery. After they finished smoking, he throttled her and pinned her to the floor. He demanded to know how much money she had in the apartment, and took what was available. As he choked her, she blacked out. He stripped her, dragged her to her bedroom, and raped her.

"She was coming to, and she begged me not to hurt her (so) I just performed sex on her, and (then) I told her to stand and put her clothes on. And as she stood up to put her underwear on, that's when I administered the choke hold."

After she became limp in his arms, he tied a nightgown and a T-shirt together to garrote her. Upon leaving, he stole her Visa MasterCard and Exxon gas card, using the latter to make several gas purchases.

The Jumper Murder

"(Valencia) was like a little sister to me. I don't know why I ever hurt her..."

Nevertheless, he had stopped by to see Jumper that night, telling her that he had had a fight with his girlfriend, Sadie, and badly needed someone to talk to. Jumper let him in. After they conversed a few moments, Wallace asked her to please call Sadie to inform her that he was over there so she wouldn't wonder where he'd gone.

When Jumper turned away from him to dial the phone, he drew her into a body lock. "She begged me not to hurt her. She said I'll do anything you want me to, just don't hurt me." Fearfully, she allowed him to molest her; she even performed orally for him, hoping to save her life.

While she was getting dressed afterwards, he managed to draw her attention to the other side of the room. "I put the towel around her neck (and) she just went out real quick...And I went to her kitchen, and I noticed there was a bottle of rum, 151. And I poured the rum all over her body...And I went into the kitchen and opened a can of pork and beans...and put it on the stove. I took the battery out of her smoke detector and I turned the stove on high...(Then) I went back to her bedroom and I took a match and I threw it on the 151...I left and went home."

Before he fired her body, he removed some expensive pieces of jewelry from it. He later pawned them.

The Stinson Murder

Wallace dropped in unannounced on Stinson at 11 p.m. that night. His sole aim was rape. Chatting awhile, he pretended to be thirsty, and asked for a glass of water.

Watching Michelle turn to reach for a glass on a shelf, he made his move. Immobilizing her from behind, he began to unbutton her blouse. After forcing her into sex, he choked her until she swooned.

"I went to the bathroom and I got a towel, put it around her neck, and I strangled her...But, she kept moaning and groaning and so forth and so on, so there was a knife in her kitchen, and I think I stabbed her about four times."

The Mack Murder

By the time he killed Vanessa Mack, he admitted that his "primary motive" was money. Such was his drug addiction crack, LSD, anything he could get his hands on, any way he could get it. Mack, he knew, had a good job, money in the bank, and always carried an ATM card.

Tonight, he carried a pillowcase, hidden under his jacket.

"She stood up to get me some soda in the kitchen. That's when I quickly put the pillowcase around her neck...I asked her for all the money she had because she had told me she had just gotten an income tax return back. I asked her for her teller card (and) PIN number."

After she turned those things over to him, he insisted on having sex. She was too afraid to object. When they were through, she mentioned that she needed to put her baby to bed; the child had been asleep on the sofa. He pretended to release her from his grasp, but as she rose off the mattress, he reached around her once more with the pillowcase and ended her life.

Later that evening, when using her ATM card, it did not work. "She gave me some fake PIN number."

The Baucom Murder

Since Betty Baucom was one of the supervisors at Bojangles Restaurant, Wallace figured she knew its burglar alarm code and possessed keys to its safe. His intention was wholly theft. Stopping by, he asked her if he could use her phone; she consented and opened her door to him. He dawdled a few moments at the phone, pretending to be looking up a certain number. When she turned her back, he subdued her.

Ordering her to get naked, she desisted. Fighting, she inflicted scratches and a bite mark on his shoulder. Overcoming her at last, he angrily raped her.

"(Then) I told her to get up, put her clothes on. I placed a towel around her neck and asked her if she had any money. She said yeah, she did she gave me the money that was in her purse. I took a gold chain from around her neck."

That done, he strangled her.

Not satisfied with the evening's paltry take, he decided to steal her television set and VCR. But, since he no longer owned a car he had totaled his green Maxim he took her Pulsar to transport the pirated items back to his flat. From there, he sold them for cash. Fearing that the police might be catching on, he abandoned the car hours later, wiping it clean of fingerprints. But, he confessed, he had forgotten to wipe off the trunk lid.

The Henderson Murder

After leaving Betty Baucom's flat he stepped down the hall straight to Brandi Henderson's apartment where he knew she would be home alone; his friend Verness Lamar Woods, who lived with her and their 10-month-old boy, was out working. Knocking on her door, he told Henderson that he wanted to drop something off for Lamar, so she invited him in. She suspected nothing.

Once inside, he squeezed her to him and demanded money. The only cash she had on hand was $15 in her purse and loose change she kept in a Pringle's Potato Chips can. Taking that, he led her to her bed where he commanded her to perform oral sex. The more she pleaded, the more aroused he became.

"We had intercourse (and afterwards) she got on her knees and started praying...because she was scared. And I said, I'm not going to hurt you...I said, give me a hug, and she hugged me (but) I choked her out with (a) towel...until she was red in the face and unconscious." She died in his grasp.

Wallace had intended to steal Brandi's TV and stereo since he had a means of conveyance at his hands (Baucom's automobile). But, when little T.W., the tot, began crying, Wallace panicked. The last thing he wanted now was an angry neighbor waking up just as he was toting the stolen merchandise from her apartment. Lifting the baby from its crib, Wallace tried to calm him with a pacifier, but to no avail.

"I took a towel and placed it around the baby's neck, and I didnt want to tie it tight enough to choke him...(just) enough to make it difficult for him to breathe."

His crying sputtered, which afforded Wallace the quiet he needed to make off with the items from the apartment, uninterrupted.

The Slaughter Murder

Approaching Debra Slaughter at her apartment, he asked if she wanted to go in half with him on a purchase of cocaine. She told him that she didn't have enough money for that. Disappointed, he pummeled her and, in his customary manner, strong-held her with a towel at her throat. Forcing intercourse, he also made her turn over to him "roughly $60" in cash.

But, Slaughter proved to be more obstinate than the other women Wallace had encountered, much more. She raged, telling him that her suspicions of him were now confirmed that he was the man who had been strangling all those women across that part of Charlotte. He denied it, but she only became more vocal. When he reached to strike her, she broke free, screamed, called out for police, and reached for a knife she had hidden in her purse.

"I caught her arm and I grabbed the knife from her and I stabbed her about 20 times...It was a little knife...shaped kind of like a dagger."

After he killed her, he left to buy some cocaine. "(But) I went back to her apartment. While she lay on the floor dead, I went in her bathroom and smoked it."

*****

Wallace also admitted to having slain a prostitute, whose name he did not know, back in 1992. But, said he, in that case she had been the aggressor.

"We had sexual intercourse. She demanded money and I didn't have any money, and we got into a scuffle, and it pursued into basically me beating her to death."

Stuffing her body in his car, he drove it to Old Mount Holly Road, a deserted area near railroad tracks, and there abandoned it out of sight.

*****

The confession phase having ended, Inspector Sanders asked Henry Wallace, "Why have you told us what you've told us?"

"I've wanted to tell the story for a long time," Wallace responded. "If I wouldn't have told you, if I wouldn't have stopped, the killing would have continued and probably I would have killed myself as well. I've tried many times, but was unsuccessful."

Over the next couple of weeks, detectives followed up on Wallace's claims names, dates, and times. They accompanied him to the spot where Caroline Love had been left. From her remains, County Pathologist James Sullivan was able to confirm that Love had been strangled.

On April 4, 1994, Wallace was officially indicted with nine counts of murder, as well as a battalion of other charges various counts of first and second degree rape, various counts of first and second degree sexual offense, various counts of assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a child under age 12, and several counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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