Dating App Serial Killer Gets 160-Year Sentence: ‘Each Of These Women’s Lives Mattered,’ Prosecutor Says
Khalil Wheeler-Weaver was caught after one victim’s loved ones used social media to identify and lure him to the police.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig
Wheeler-Weaver, who used dating apps to lure and kill three women five years ago, was sentenced to 160 years in prison after a trial in which it was revealed that friends of one victim did their own detective work on social media to ferret out the suspect.
A New Jersey serial killer who used dating apps to hunt for victims and took the lives of three women and sexually assaulted a fourth was recently sentenced to prison.
In 2019, a jury found Khalil Wheeler-Weaver guilty of three counts of murder as well as desecration of human remains, attempted murder, sexual assault, arson, and kidnapping, among other charges.
At the convicted 25-year-old serial killer’s October 6 sentencing in Newark, the fourth would-be murder victim who managed to escape implored the court to give Wheeler-Weaver the maximum sentence.
“My whole life is different; I don't wear makeup anymore; I don't have friends. I'm always paranoid. But I'm happy to still be here,” she said, telling the judge, “I hope you don't show him any remorse, because he's not showing any remorse.”
Wheeler-Weaver denied he was guilty of the crimes and claimed he was framed, and Superior Court Judge Mark S. Ali handed down a 160-year prison sentence.
On the evening of August 31, 2016, Wheeler-Weaver’s first victim, 19-year-old Robin West, who was from Philadelphia, was spotted getting into his vehicle. The teenager’s body was later found in a vacant home that was set on fire in Orange, New Jersey.
“I will never forget her smile, her face, her walk, her desire to help homeless people,” her mother, Anita Mason, said in court. “The world focuses on the last month of her life. She had a whole entire life before her demise. Hundreds of people were affected by her life and were saddened by her death.”
Around a month after West was murdered, Joanne Brown, 33, was slain and her body was found in an abandoned residence in Newark about six weeks later.
The serial killer was caught after his last victim’s friends and family joined forces to trap him for the police.
In November 2016, college student Sarah Butler was home in Montclair for Thanksgiving break when she disappeared. Her body was found concealed under some brush in a forest reserve. She had been strangled to death with her sweatpants.
Friends were able to access Butler’s social media and found evidence she and Wheeler-Weaver had been in touch before her death. They and Butler’s family created a fake account to lure him in with the promise of a sexual encounter, the Associated Press reported, citing the Essex County prosecutor’s office. Wheeler-Weaver fell for the the ruse, but when he showed up to what he believed would be a tryst, police arrested him.
“The defendant believed these victims were disposable. They were killed and then he went on about his day as if nothing had happened,” Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Adam Wells said at sentencing. “But each of these women's lives mattered.”