NBC News reports that police believe a man shot and killed by a West Virginia sex worker when he tried to attack the woman could be linked to up to 10 other attacks, including six women killed in a small Ohio town in the past year.
Charleston, West Virginia, police said the man, identified as Neal Falls, 45, most recently of Springfield, Oregon, was killed July 18 in the apartment of an escort he'd met on Backpage, an online personals portal often used to arrange sexual liaisons.
Police said they found what they described as a "kill kit" in the trunk of Falls' car, including handcuffs, knives, axes, a sledgehammer, a bulletproof vest, another gun, shovels and bleach and other cleaning supplies.
Falls' death is being investigated as a justified homicide. The woman's identity has been kept anonymous by investigators.
In 911 audio obtained by NBC News affiliate WSAZ, the caller can be heard describing the attack after coming across the woman in an alley.
911 caller: There's a lady in a alley here. She's saying that a man tried to rape her and she had to defend herself and she shot him in the kitchen. He pulled a gun on her.
Dispatcher: Where is the guy at?
Caller: She said he's in her kitchen.
Police are saying they have reason to link Falls to four unsolved killings of sex workers in the Las Vegas area where three women were found dismembered and one disappeared. Falls lived in Henderson, Nevada, nearly a decade ago, during the same time period the women went missing. Las Vegas police also said that Falls fits the suspect's profile based on the equipment found in his car.
Police in Ohio are looking into whether Falls is connected to the deaths and disappearances of six women in Chillicothe, Ohio, feared to be the work of a serial killer. The Ohio victims were all mothers in their twenties and thirties and shared similar stories. Some of the women were drug users and worked as prostitutes, and some knew each other.
Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mike Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.