A man serving a life sentence in the murder of a 37-year-old mother in Virginia has been charged in the cold case murders of two more women in Fairfax and Prince George's counties, after he confessed the crimes to detectives, police say.
Charles Helem, 52, is responsible for the the 1987 killing of 37-year-old Eige Sober-Adler in Fairfax County and the 2002 murder of 19-year-old Jennifer Landry in Prince George's County, police said.
Prince George's County Police Chief Malik Aziz said in a news conference Wednesday that Helem picked up Landry in D.C. while soliciting sex for money. He then killed her in Mount Rainier, Maryland, and left her body in a wooded area near Oak Lane, police said.
Police had no idea who she was until a detective in Massachusetts, where Landry was from, connected the dots. He noticed the unidentified murder victim had the same tattoo as Landry. Fingerprints then confirmed her ID in 2005.
We're making it easier for you to find stories that matter with our new newsletter — The 4Front. Sign up here and get news that is important for you to your inbox.
In 2010, Helem sent a letter to the Mount Rainier Police Department claiming to have knowledge about Landry’s unsolved murder. Prince George's County detectives tried to speak to him in prison at the time, but he refused an interview. In 2017, Helem sent another letter, but he again refused to talk, police said.
"Detectives didn't give up. They tried again to interview him in 2021. And this time, he agreed," Aziz said.
Helem talked to detectives in September of last year. Police say he confessed to Landry’s murder during that interview and provided information only the suspect would know.
He also gave Prince George's County detectives information about an unsolved murder in Herndon, Virginia. That led Fairfax County police in to bring charges against Helem in the killing of Sober-Adler.
Sober-Adler, of Kensington, Maryland, was found murdered in a parking lot along the Dulles Toll Road, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said in the joint news conference.
Helem was previously convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence at a Virginia prison for the 2002 murder of Patricia Bentley, who was also 37 years old, Davis said. Helem killed the single mother inside her townhome in Chantilly, he said.
Davis said Fairfax County detectives "very, very clearly" remembered Helem from that case.
"His path of destruction over the years has certainly had an impact on our victims and their families and our region," Davis said.
Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.