A Man Murdered 11 Black Women Over 4 Years — Did Victims' Race Allow Him to Keep Killing?
At just 10 months old, Tyrece Woods joined a small community of people who have survived violent attacks at the hands of serial killers.
On the evening of March 8, 1994, Woods and his mother, Brandi June Henderson, were at home in Charlotte, N.C., when a man named Henry Louis Wallace entered their apartment. Wallace violently raped Henderson while she was holding her infant son, then strangled both of them. Henderson, just 18 years old and still in high school, died in the attack; Woods managed to pull through.
Henderson was one of 11 Black women whose lives were taken by Wallace — and one of his final victims.
Wallace's murder spree, authorities soon learned, began exactly four years before he killed Henderson. He was questioned by Barnwell, S.C., police in 1990 after his first victim was found dead, but never charged in the case. He then relocated to Charlotte, where he found each of his future victims.
Wallace was finally apprehended in 1994, just days after Henderson's murder. Had investigators linked him to the string of crimes sooner, numerous lives would have been saved — a haunting realization for people like Woods, whose life was permanently altered at the tail end of Wallace's reign of terror.
In this week's episode of 20/20, Woods opens up with ABC News about growing up without his mother and knowing the horrifying way in which she was killed.
"Truthfully, I wanted to die for a long time," he says in an exclusive clip from the episode, shown below. "As I started learning more, that'd be too selfish. She fought too hard to keep me alive, and that's why I survived. That's why I didn't die."
"There's no timeframe on grieving, there's no timeframe on how long you can or can't miss somebody," Woods says. "I went through all of that, so I'm like I've got to be doing something great for her (Henderson). I've got to do something to the point where she can say, 'I'm proud of you son.'"
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In addition to catching up with a now-grown Woods, the 20/20 special explores accusations of racial bias that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department faced after appearing to put little effort into solving the Black women's murders.
The episode also features interviews with Dee Sumpter, the activist mother of victim Shawna Hawk; the Mecklenburg County Sheriff who was a detective on the case at the time; the woman who prosecuted Wallace; high school classmates of Wallace; and journalists who covered the case. To round out the reporting, ABC News obtained audio of Wallace's police interrogations, police reports, trial records and crime scene photographs.
The emotional 20/20 episode airs Friday, May 13, at 9 p.m. ET on ABC, and will be available for streaming the next day on Hulu.