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Police charge convicted murderer with two cold case homicides

Police charge convicted murderer with two cold case homicides
Authorities said convicted murderer Charles Helem, 52, has confessed to killing two other women in 1987 and 2002. Photo courtesy of Prince George's Police Department/release

Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Authorities in Virginia and Maryland have charged a man convicted of murder and currently behind bars with two more homicides that date as far as nearly 35 years.

Charles Helem, 52, was charged Wednesday with killing 37-year-old Eige Sober Adler on Sept. 8, 1987, in the small Virginia town of Herndon and killing 19-year-old Jennifer Landry on Aug. 15, 2002, in the city of Mount Rainier, Md.

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Authorities said during a joint press conference that Helem recently confessed to the two killings from jail where he is serving a life sentence for the 2002 murder of 37-year-old single mother Patricia Bentley of Chantilly, Va.

Following the confessions, detectives corroborated the information Helem gave them with that which only the suspect in both cases would know, they said.

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The indictment in Fairfax County was returned Wednesday, charing him with Adler's death.

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Police found Adler deceased nearly 34 years ago in the rear parking lot of the Dulles Days Inn in Herndon with her vehicle discovered discarded about a half mile away.

Though evidence was collected, the case eventually assigned to Fairfax County's Major Crimes Bureau's Cold Case Squad where it stayed until his confession to Fairfax authorities in October.

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"We will now pursue a vigorous prosecution of Mr. Helem," Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Steven Descano said, adding, "This indictment will not bring Eige back and while her parents are not here to experience this day, it is my hope that those who knew and loved her will have some semblance of closure."

Prince George's County Police Chief Malik Aziz said his office secured an arrest warrant for Helem on Tuesday for the murder of Landry.

Police said Landry was found dead in a wooded area in Mount Rainier nearly 20 years ago. An autopsy found she suffered from trauma to her neck including cutting wounds and that she died of asphyxia.

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She remained unidentified until July 2005 when her identity was confirmed through a fingerprint match.

Helem had twice sent a letter in 2010 and 2017 to the Mount Rainier Police Department claiming knowledge about Landry's death but turned down requests for interviews from authorities following both instances.

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In September, Prince George cold case detectives contacted Helem for an interview, and he agreed, confessing to the murder of Landry.

He said he had picked Landry up in Washington, D.C., while she was soliciting sex for money and then drove her to Mount Rainier where she was killed, the Prince George's Police Department said in a release.

"While communicating with Helem about Landry's murder, he provided information regarding an unsolved murder in Fairfax county," the department said.

Prince George's State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy told reporters that her office is still reviewing the case as their grand jury is not currently in session.

Asked if they had any indication that Helem may have been involved in other homicides, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said that is something they are looking into.

"Now we know he killed in '87, he killed twice in 2002, so we are working backwards now -- Fairfax County, George's County -- to see if there's any other possibilities, any other murders or other crimes that he's been involved in," he said. "That's certainly something that we're pursuing."

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