FALLS CHURCH, Va. — A man serving a life sentence for a Virginia murder has confessed to two additional slayings, one of which goes back 35 years, police said Wednesday.
Fairfax County Police said at a news conference that Charles Helem, 52, has been charged with murder for the 1987 slaying of Eige Sober-Adler, 37. Her body was found in a field behind a motel after her car was found abandoned on the Dulles Toll Road in Herndon.
In addition, Prince George’s County Police in Maryland announced that Helem confessed to the 2002 slaying of Jennifer Landry, 19, of Randolph, Massachusetts. Police said Helem picked her up in the District of Columbia and killed her a short time later in the Mount Rainier area. The county state’s attorney, Aisha Braveboy, said formal charges are pending.
The confessions came after Helem wrote to police in Maryland and said he had information to share. Police said Helem first reached out to Mount Rainier Police in 2010 saying he had information about Landry’s death, but he ultimately refused to talk to detectives. He sent another letter in 2017 but again refused to be interviewed. Police said cold case detectives were finally able to persuade him to talk in September.
Fairfax County Police said they had long considered Helem a suspect in Adler’s death. Chief Kevin Davis credited cooperation between jurisdictions in allowing Fairfax police to obtain the confession needed to close the case.
Davis said now that Helem has been linked to three slayings between 1987 and 2002, investigators are “working backwards” to see if he may be responsible for other unsolved killings.
It was not immediately clear why Helem, who is serving his life sentence at Red Onion State Prison in southwest Virginia, reached out to authorities now, after serving nearly 20 years in prison since his initial conviction.
He was sentenced to life after a jury convicted him of murder in the strangling death of his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Bentley, 37, of Chantilly. Landry’s autopsy indicates she died of asphyxia and also suffered wounds to her neck.
The announcement that police believe Helem is responsible for multiple slayings in the region comes one month after Fairfax County Police announced another ongoing investigation into a man suspected of being a serial killer, 35-year-old Anthony Robinson of Washington, D.C. Police say they have identified four victims of Robinson in Fairfax County and Harrisonburg and are investigating a fifth death in the District.