- A woman who was found dead at a New Jersey nature preserve in 2016 had asked a man days earlier whether he was a serial killer, authorities testified in court on Thursday.
- Khalil Wheeler-Weaver has been charged with murder in the deaths of three women and with trying to kill a fourth. He has pleaded not guilty.
- At his trial, authorities testified about his phone records and internet search history, which showed that he had Googled date-rape drugs less than two hours before Sarah Butler, 20, asked if he was a serial killer.
- They said Butler’s grieving family and friends later found her conversations with Wheeler-Weaver and created a fake profile to lure him to a meeting, where the police were waiting.
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When Sarah Butler, 20, agreed to meet up with a man she talked to on the social-media network Tagged on November 19, 2016, she messaged him asking, “You’re not a serial killer, right?”
Unbeknownst to Butler, the man she was speaking with had Googled date-rape drugs less than two hours earlier.
Butler was found dead 10 days later in New Jersey’s Eagle Rock Reservation, hidden underneath a pile of leaves and sticks, the North Jersey Record reported.
Those details were in testimony from police officers on Thursday at the trial of Khalil Wheeler-Weaver, who has pleaded not guilty to three murder charges and one attempted-murder charge.
Prosecutors allege that Wheeler-Weaver waged a killing spree during the fall of 2016, strangling and asphyxiating Butler, as well as Robin West, 19, and Joanne Browne, 33. They’ve also accused him of trying to kill a fourth person, identified only by the initials T.T.
According to the North Jersey Record, authorities in court on Thursday detailed a slew of disturbing internet searches Wheeler-Weaver had made, including “How to make homemade poisons to kill humans” and “What chemical could you put on a rag and hold to someone’s face to make them go to sleep immediately.”
Wheeler-Weaver also searched for “police entrance exam practice test,” apparently to learn about how to become a police officer, they said.
The police said that they tracked Wheeler-Weaver’s phone and that it placed him at the address of an abandoned building that was set on fire and was where West’s body was found in September 2016.
Prosecutors said the phone records also showed that Wheeler-Weaver drove away but circled back so he could watch the firefighters put out the blaze.
But prosecutors said last month that his one “fatal mistake” was choosing Butler as a victim. They said the woman’s grieving family members and friends found her online conversations with Wheeler-Weaver and created a fake Tagged profile to lure him to a new meeting.
This time, the police were there to meet him. Wheeler-Weaver was arrested on December 6, 2016.
“Sarah’s friends and family are the heroes of this case,” Adam Wells, an Essex County assistant prosecutor, said in court, according to the North Jersey Record.
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