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SERIAL KILLER? 20-year-old New Jersey man denies killing three women and trying to kill a fourth

by Associated Press

DAVID PORTER
Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A man accused of killing three women was tracked via his cellphone to locations near where at least two of the women’s bodies were discovered, according to a court document filed by prosecutors.

The assertions were contained in an affidavit filed in January by an Essex County prosecutor’s office detective, seeking a court order to force Khalil Wheeler-Weaver to provide a DNA sample.

The 20-year-old Orange resident was indicted last month for the three murders and the attempted murder, kidnapping and sexual assault of a fourth woman last fall. Through his attorney, he pleaded not guilty in a brief court appearance Monday.

The document contended one of his alleged victims, 33-year-old Joanne Brown, of Newark, called a friend using Wheeler-Weaver’s phone after she was seen getting into a car. Her body was found six weeks later in an abandoned house, allegedly where Wheeler-Weaver’s cellphone had placed him on the night of her disappearance.

The document also alleged that cellphone data placed Wheeler-Weaver at locations and at times consistent with the death of Sarah Butler, a 20-year-old New Jersey City University student from Montclair.

Butler was reported missing on Nov. 23. Her body was found buried under leaves and debris in a park in nearby West Orange on Dec. 1.

Both women were strangled, according to the affidavit. Brown was found with a jacket tied around her neck and with her mouth and nose covered with duct tape.

Wheeler-Weaver also is charged with killing 19-year-old Philadelphia resident Robin West on Sept. 1 in Orange, an economically struggling city of 33,000 outside New York City. He allegedly started a fire at the vacant house where he dumped her body in an attempt to hide his crime.

Wheeler-Weaver, wearing glasses and a light blue shirt with his hands cuffed behind his back, didn’t speak during Monday’s proceeding.

When asked whether his office would offer a deal to Wheeler-Weaver, Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Adam Wells said he would be “surprised if he would take a plea that would satisfy us.”

Wells stopped short of designating Wheeler-Weaver a serial killer, though he said others might use the term based on their own definition.

Shevelle McPherson, an attorney representing Wheeler-Weaver, said after Monday’s hearing that her client “has a lot of family support” from his mother, stepmother and siblings.

“He’s remained strong, faithful and confident that we’re going to be able to do a good job for him,” she said. “He’s in a pretty good state of mind considering what the allegations are.”

[Featured Image: Patti Sapone/NJ Advance Media via AP, Pool]

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