Henry Louis Wallace
A Child Unloved
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 trials 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 mothers 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 didnt 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 attitude.
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 years.
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 Marettas 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 Carolina.
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 didnt 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.