You could never tell that Khalil Wheeler-Weaver was a cold-blooded serial killer just by looking at him. He dressed well, had clean-cut hair, and a non-threatening demeanor.
Records even indicated that he was raised in an affluent neighborhood in Orange, New Jersey. To top it off, a number of his family members worked in law enforcement.
So, Khalil Wheeler-Weaver was not someone anyone expected to have a secret life as a criminal. Unfortunately, the truth is that he had a very dark hidden side.
As a killer, he preferred to use Tagged, a social media app, to hunt for his victims. For that reason, he is popularly known as the "Tagged Killer."
Ironically, Khalil Wheeler-Weaver was lured to a trap by the family of his last victim through the social media app he used to hunt for victims. Unfortunately, he had already killed three women.
His last victim, Sarah Butler, was suspicious of him and went as far as asking him if he was a serial killer. Butler's family tricked Khalil Wheeler-Weaver into revealing himself using the app he had used to kill their family member.
Wheeler-Weaver's First Two Victims
Towards the start of his killings, Khalil Wheeler-Weaver, who was 20 at the time, was working as a security guard. He was described as being "calm and helpful."
Nevertheless, he was about to claim his first victim, a young lady known as Robin West. According to her mother, the girl was apparently struggling with mental health problems.
She worked as a sex worker when she disappeared on August 31, 2016. Investigators later found her remains, charred, in a burned-down abandoned house.
The body was in a terrible state, and it took two weeks to identify it using dental records. Even then, nobody could tell how the young woman had met her death.
Khalil Wheeler-Weaver told the authorities that he had gone out to have a meal with West before dropping her off at an abandoned house close to where she was found.
Weeks after West's body was found, another woman, 33-year-old Joanne Brown, went missing. Brown had mental health issues and homelessness problems.
The last time she was seen was on October 22, 2016, when she got into Khalil Wheeler-Weaver's car.
A month after that, she was declared missing. Then on December 5, 2016, her remains were found in an abandoned house. There was a tape over her mouth, and it was established that she had died of strangulation.
Khalil Wheeler-Weaver's Third And Last Victim
Sarah Butler, Khalil Wheeler-Weaver's third victim, was killed on November 22, 2016. She was a second-year student at New Jersey City University.
Unlike his other victims, she did not have mental health issues. She was also not a sex worker and was close to her family. However, she agreed to take $500 for sex with him.
It seemed that his victims were people he considered less human and unlikely to be missed.
Butler had met Wheeler-Weaver on Tagged but had initially refused to go out with him until he offered her cash. As they talked, she jokingly asked him: "You're not a serial killer, right?"
While leaving to meet her date, Butler told her mom she was meeting a friend. She also borrowed her mother's van. This was the last time her family saw her until her body was found on December 1, 2016. Butler's body was found in Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange.
Khalil Wheeler-Weaver's Would-Be Victim, Tiffany Taylor
Before Butler's death on November 22, authorities came close to catching Khalil Wheeler-Weaver after a woman came forward talking about a strange encounter she had with him. The 34-year-old woman, Tiffany Taylor, pregnant and homeless at the time, spoke about how the serial killer had paid her for sex.
After meeting him in a hotel in New Jersey, they took off in his car. Wheeler-Weaver then handcuffed her and put duct tape on her mouth before raping her at the back of his car. Once he was done, he strangled her until she lost consciousness.
She woke up, managed to convince him to take her back to the motel, and ran into a room and locked it before calling 911. Unfortunately, Khalil Wheeler-Weaver got away before the police got there.
How Butler's Family Helped Catch Khalil Wheeler-Weaver
After Butler's death, her family wanted to catch her killer. Fortunately, her sister knew the password to her Tagged account.
After logging into her account, she found out about Wheeler-Weaver.
She then created a fake profile and worked with Montclair police. Together they organized a "date" that resulted in Khalil Wheeler-Weaver being arrested.
They discovered that he had three phones in his bedroom on the same day. On the phones, they found online searches about making homemade poisons and a chemical that could be used to make someone sleep immediately when put on a rag and held to someone's face.
He had also done a search on the police entrance exam practice test.
More importantly, the phones proved that Khalil Wheeler-Weaver was at the abandoned building where West's body was found. It was also clear that he was the last person to call Joanne Brown before she went missing and turned up dead.
Trial And Sentencing
In February 2017, Khalil Wheeler-Weaver was indicted with three counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, aggravated arson, and desecration of human remains. He entered a not guilty plea.
Two years later, in 2019, Wheeler-Weaver was found guilty of 11 charges by the jury, including three counts of murder. He was sentenced on October 6, 2021, due to delays brought about by the COVID-19. The family members of the victims were also given a chance to speak.
West's mother explained how she was killed when she had the whole world ahead of her.
Butler's father simply said, "I hope you suffer, boy, every night." Taylor, his would-be victim, said that her life had changed since an encounter with him and said to the judge, "I hope you don't show him any remorse because he's not showing any remorse."
Khalil Wheeler-Weaver maintained that he was framed for the murders by the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. However, there was a mountain of evidence against him, including 42 witnesses and 1,000 exhibits. There was proof he was at the scene of each of the murders he was accused of committing.
The prosecutor said he was a serial killer who thought his victims were disposable. His lawyer tried to ask for leniency because he had no other convictions before the murder charges.
The judge sentenced him to 160 years in prison. He will have to serve at least 140 years before he is eligible for parole. During the sentencing, the judge said the sentence was supposed to prove that each of the women he killed mattered. The trial lasted only two months, and the jury had arrived at their final decision in less than three hours.