CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The chilling story of Neal Falls, an Oregon man who told a Charleston woman to “live or die” before clasping his bare hands around her neck in an attempt to kill her, is allowing similar cases across the United States to emerge.
“We had one arise within hours of the Fox News broadcast,” said Charleston Chief of Detectives Lt. Steve Cooper on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline” about a case that was traced to the western part of the country. “It won’t surprise me if there are more.”
The investigation made national news Wednesday in an attempt to alert other law enforcement agencies nationwide about the death of Falls, his actions, the items they recovered in his vehicle and the question of whether he’s committed similar crimes before with women in other states during his path to West Virginia.
Falls, 45, was shot and killed by the woman he initially wanted to rape and murder. He showed up at her 6th Street apartment Saturday after responding to an advertisement she posted on the website Backpage.com.
During a 10 to 15 minute struggle, Falls dropped his gun, allowing the woman to grab it just in time to shoot him from behind.
On Wednesday, Charleston police released several photos of the items found inside Falls’ Subaru including numerous sets of handcuffs, bottles of bleach, several axes, a shovel, knives, firearms, a bullet proof vest and a pair of boots.
Cooper said they traced most of Falls’ travels over the past year, linking him to traffic related incidents in numerous states.
Saturday’s attack left Falls’ family members in shock. Cooper said they cooperated with officers, but the information they provided did not seal up any other cases.
“They weren’t close. They hadn’t had a lot of contact. He sort of ‘went off the grid,’ so to speak,” he said. “Some of the family members knew he had some issues.”
With heavy hearts that their relative is now dead, the family also apologized for the woman who had to experience the near-death incident.
“She’s still shaken. She’s still traumatized. I think she realized she had to do what she did or she would’ve died. She’s convinced that he was going to kill her and so am I,” Cooper said.