In my first week of moving to Charlotte, I (naturally) had the Identification Discovery Channel on in the background as I unpacked, barely paying attention until the most awkward fake-Southern accent ever was talking about the famed Rae Carruth case.
Carruth was a Carolina Panther convicted of arranging the murder of his pregnant girlfriend in a drive-by shooting on Rea Road in South Charlotte. This interested me enough to Google other horrific crimes in my new hometown.
“The Taco Bell Strangler” topped my returned search results, and with a name like that, who wouldn’t be intrigued?
Turns out, the Taco Bell on North Sharon Amity Road has a much more sinister history than selling $1 burritos.
The restaurant served as a hunting ground for victims of the Charlotte-based serial killer Henry Louis Wallace – commonly referred to as the Taco Bell Strangler. He lured his victims with a pleasant personality, sweet smile and seemingly gentle nature. It all hid a ferocious nature fueled by drug abuse.
Wallace is responsible for 10 murders by strangulation between May 1992 and March 1994. He also confessed to the rape and robbery of some of his victims – more than half of which had a link to Taco Bell and all of whom were black women. Here is a photo of his victims.
Wallace was arrested on March 13, 1994. Shockingly, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department only told the Charlotte community there was a suspected serial killer on the loose on March 9, 1994 — two years after his killing spree started.
Wallace is currently on death row, with no date set for his execution. While he awaits his death, the community is left wondering if Wallace may be responsible for other unsolved murders.
One possible new case may be that of Rita Maxwell, murdered in 1992. The family has recently discovered that Maxwell and Wallace knew each other. The family has publicly come forward and said they believe Maxwell was also a victim of Wallace’s.
Photos: Charlotte Observer & AP