Confessed serial killer Henry Wallace was convicted of murdering nine women, all co-workers at Charlotte- area fast food restaurants, friends of his sister or friends of a former girlfriend. Uncharacteristically Wallace preyed on acquaintances, a very rare trait in serial killing.
Wallace was arrested in March 1994 after a burst of four slayings in three weeks which led police to suspect for the first time that there was a serial killer was at work. In custody he gave police taped statements detailing how he had murdered 10 women in Charlotte, most through strangulation after raping them in their homes. The serial murders occurred in a 22-month killing spree that ended with Wallace's arrest.
Charlotte police were criticized for not making an arrest sooner. Black residents were particularly critical, saying the police should have realized similarities in the murders -- the victims were young black women who had been strangled. Some were also stabbed. But police denied charges of racism, responding that Wallace, who is also black, did not fit the general profile of a serial killer.
Wallace was described by police as intelligent and charming, and with a heavy crack habit, apparently was able to talk his way in. Before he left some of the murder scenes, Wallace sometimes wiped off fingerprints and washed his victims. In one case, he poured rum on one victim's body and set fire to her apartment to obscure the cause of death.
Wallace told police he returned to the apartment of his final victim, Debra Slaughter, to smoke crack after he had strangled her and stabbed her 38 times. Then he put on her Chicago White Sox jacket, grabbed a beer from her refrigerator and left.
"It was like an out-of-body experience," he said of one slaying. "It was like I didn't want to, but something or somebody was taking over my body, and I couldn't even stop when I tried to stop." "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."
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. Rebecca wore a pale green dress covered with pink flowers and a pearl necklace. Wallace looked dashing in his red prison jumpsuit and black tennis shoes. Wallace's court-appointed attorney, 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.
The newlyweds were allowed to talk with one another for about 20 minutes in the room where they were married. They were reunited a few minutes later in another area, where they were separated by plastic glass and bars, and talked for about an hour.