Technology and social media and telephone apps have made communication between easier than it has ever been before. Social media and dating platforms have been connecting individuals now for more than two decades.
But one thing is for certain, there will always be individuals that use these platforms for criminal purposes, and no matter who those people may appear to be, you can never really be certain.
In, 2016 Khalil Wheeler-Weaver was known as an individual who worked as a security guard at a grocery store and a hotel. He grew up comfortably in a middle-class family in New Jersey, with a step-father and uncle who were both police officers in separate communities.
Search records on his cell phone even indicated that, he sought out the process on how to become a police officer himself.
Not someone that would automatically be looked at as someone who could go on a killing spree. Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Adam Wells has even stated:
“He doesn’t look like someone who would’ve done something like this. But you’re going to see the evidence that says he did.”
Fast forward from 2016 to 2019, and Wheeler-Weaver is standing trial for three murders one attempted murder of women that started in a murder spree in August of 2016.
Reports stated that on Thursday of this week:
“Prosecutors introduced hundreds of pages of records detailing how Wheeler-Weaver used his cell phone to learn how to create drugs potent enough to knock a human being unconscious.”
The prosecutors showed records from Wheeler-Weaver’s phone which he used to research topics like, how to “kill a person using household chemicals like bleach and ammonia,” types of date rape drugs he could purchase, and “what chemical could you put on a rag and hold to someone’s face to make them go to sleep immediately.”
During the trail this week, prosecutors presented evidence that Wheeler-Weaver had solicited a woman by the name of Sarah Butler, who was a 20-year-old college student. He met Butler on a social media site called, ‘Tagged’. The social media site is listed as:
“The social network for meeting new people. Millions of people are having fun and making new friends on Tagged every day.” It is described as a platform that “Tagged is a blend of social networking features that MySpace and Facebook.”
When Butler met Wheeler-Weaver, he had propositioned her with an offer of $500 to have sex with him. After accepting Wheeler-Weaver’s offer, phone records of text messages exchanged between the two, have Butler asking him:
“Wow. You’re not a serial killer, right?”
Sadly, little did she know that he had allegedly killed two other women before targeting her.
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Ten days after they exchanged messages, Bulter’s body was found in New Jersey ten days later, under a pile of leaves and sticks in Eagle Rock Reservation. It was later found that Butler had been killed by strangulation and asphyxiation.
Wheeler-Weaver is also on trial in the deaths of two other women who were alleged known sex workers, 19-year-old sex-worker Robin West and Joanne Browne, 33. The manner of both women’s deaths had also been strangled and asphyxiation.
The location where West had been killed, an abandoned building in New Jersey, had been set on fire after she was murdered. However, crews arrived on scene and were able to put out the flames before they damaged the crime scene.
Prosecutors also presented evidence that “the remains of a second alleged victim, 33-year-old Joanne Browne, were found at a vacant home in Orange.” Browne’s mother stated during her testimony at trial that prior to her death her daughter had been “struggling with homelessness and mental illness”
Evidence that has been presented at the trial, that started in October of this year, were GPS records from Wheeler-Weaver’s cell phone that put him in the location of the building where West’s body was found, around the time it appears the fire was started. It also shows that after he drove away from the scene, he circled back, in what prosecutors indicated, was an attempt to watch the fire fighters fight the blaze.
Wheeler-Weaver is also on trial for attempting to kill a fourth woman during his alleged killing spree in the fall of 2016. The woman only identified at this time as T.T.
During the trial, T.T. testified that, she recalled:
“Waking up in the back seat of her car with duct tape on her face and [than] getting choked back to sleep.”
Court records indicate T.T. went on to explain that, “eventually she managed to loosen the tape by “screaming and crying,”.”
“She convinced Wheeler-Weaver to take her to the Ritz motel in Elizabeth, to retrieve some belongings. There she freed herself by locking herself alone inside a motel room.”
Sources indicated that prosecutors have said of Wheeler-Weaver that he made one “fatal mistake” and that was in choosing Butler as one of his victims. The prosecutors went on to detail that:
“The woman’s grieving family members and friends found her online conversations with [him] so they created a fake Tagged profile to lure him to a new meeting.”
Records indicate that when Wheeler-Weaver who showed up, seemingly to meet his next victim, was met by police and placed under arrest.
Wheeler-Weaver has plead not guilty on all charges.