Man convicted in 2002 Fairfax Co. murder linked to unsolved deaths in Va., Md.

A man serving life in prison for a 2002 murder after strangling a single mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, has been linked to two other unsolved killings in the region.

In a joint news conference with the Fairfax and Prince George’s police departments on Wednesday, officials announced that Charles Helem verbally confessed to also having killed 19-year-old Jennifer Landry in August 2002.

According to officials, Landry was picked up in D.C., and was later killed in Mount Rainier in Prince George’s County.

According to Prince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz, Helem sent letters to law enforcement in 2010 and 2017 indicating his involvement in Landry’s death, but refused to speak with detectives. He agreed to be interviewed in October 2021, and Aziz said that is when he verbally confessed to killing her. The Prince George’s County cold case unit obtained an arrest warrant against him in Landry’s death.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said formal charges are pending.

During that same interview, Helem gave details about the cold case of 37-year-old Eige Sober-Adler, of Kensington, Maryland, who was killed in 1987 in Herndon, Virginia. Detectives said the details Helem shared would have only been known to her killer.

A cold case file for Sober-Adler says she was found dead in a field behind a Days Inn on Centerville Road, and that her vehicle was found on the Dulles Toll Road.

Helem was indicted for murder by a Fairfax County grand jury this week for the death of Sober-Adler.

Officials also said Helem told detectives he had been a truck driver, and so the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit have been asked to check cold cases around the country to see if there are any links to Helem.

Helem is currently serving life in prison at the Red Onion State Prison — the supermax state prison in Wise County, Virginia — for the death of Patricia Bentley, a 37-year-old single mother from Chantilly, Virginia. Prosecutors said he strangled Bentley with a phone cord and his hands.

During sentencing in 2003, Fairfax County prosecutors said Helem had previously served four years in federal prison for choking his wife. She survived the attack.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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