Suspected serial killer pleads guilty in 1987 Fairfax Co. murder

A convicted killer, who in 2021 told police he committed two unsolved murders in the D.C. region, has begun pleading guilty to those killings. After he was indicted by a grand jury in January, Charles Helem pleaded guilty to killing Eige Sober-Adler, 37, back in 1987 in Fairfax County, Virginia.

It was last year when Helem sat down with detectives about another murder, the death of Jennifer Landry in 2002 in Prince George’s County, Maryland, that he admitted to also killing Sober-Adler.

“As a result of his confession, as well as him being able to corroborate some information on only the killer would know, we were able to reach an agreement, which would see him plead guilty to murder in this case,” Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said on the plea in the Fairfax County case.

Next, he will be taken to Maryland to plead guilty for the killing of Landry.

Helem made the deal with prosecutors with a goal of being transferred out of Red Onion State Prison in Virginia, where he is serving a life sentence for strangling Patricia Bentley, 37, in her townhouse in Chantilly in 2002. With the agreement, he’ll next go to Prince George’s County to plead guilty in Landry’s death and serve out all his sentences in a Maryland prison.

He will spend the rest of his life in prison, but Descano said as a precaution, the agreement to make remains behind bars, always.

“Should anything happen with Maryland, he won’t be released to the public, he’ll be brought back here to prison in Virginia,” he said.

On the Sober-Adler case, Descano said the woman’s immediate family never got to see justice done, because they all have died. Some distant relatives were contacted about the developments in the case.

“We’re really glad that we can bring some level of closure to this and really start to give the community the ability to start healing,” he said.

According to Descano, this case shows criminals that justice never sleeps, because police and prosecutors don’t give up on cases.

“This case shows that if you thought that you got away with murder in Fairfax County, you’re wrong,” he said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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