Timothy Spencer, a.k.a. The Southside Slayer went on a crime spree in the 1980s when he raped and murdered at least five women in Arlington County, Virginia. He is known as the first killer charged and convicted using DNA evidence. He was executed by electrocution in 1994.
Police now believe that in Summer 1983, Spencer started committing a series of crimes including eight rapes, which culminated in January 1984 with the murder of Carolyn Hamm in her Arlington home. The crimes then stopped only to resume again in September 1987. This timeline coincides with a stint in prison that Spencer served for burglary.
In September 1987, he was released to a halfway house in Richmond; that same month, the crimes recommenced when he raped and strangled 35-year-old Debby Davis. Two weeks later, he performed the same crimes on Dr. Susan Hellams. Teenager Diane Cho was killed in October just outside her home, and in December, Susan Tucker was found, just like the others, she’d been raped and strangled.
Spencer was arrested in January 1988 and put on trial the following July. He had been signed out of the halfway house each time there was a murder. However, it was specifically the DNA evidence that pinpointed him to the last four murders.
David Vasquez had been arrested for the 1984 murder of Carolyn Hamm; however, he was given a full pardon after police became aware of Spencer’s activities. Spencer was never actually convicted for the 1984 murder as the DNA evidence had become too degraded.
At his trial, it was the evidence from the Susan Tucker murder that proved to be the most vital in connecting Spencer to all the crimes.
Spencer was the first to be convicted using DNA evidence, and he was the last prisoner in Virginia to be executed by the electric chair; the state began using lethal injections thereafter.
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