ORANGE — What started as an investigation into the death of one woman has expanded — with authorities alleging a 20-year-old man killed three women and attempting to kill a fourth.

Khalil Wheeler-Weaver was first arrested and charged with the murder of 20-year-old Sarah Butler, whose body was found in the Eagle Rock Reservation in December. Not long after, further investigation linked Wheeler-Weaver to the death of 33-year-old Joanne Brown, whose body was found in a vacant house in Orange on Dec. 5 after she had been reported missing in October. Both women, reports said at the time, had been strangled.

An 11-count indictment against Wheeler-Weaver also charges him with the killing of Robin West, 19, of Philadelphia. According to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray, West was living in Union Township at the time of her death. Murray said Wheeler-Weaver is alleged to have burned the vacant house where she was found after killing her.

Sarah Butler (Montclair Police)
Sarah Butler (Montclair Police)

According to Murray, a fourth person, who authorities only identified as a 34-year-old woman, survived an attack by Wheeler-Weaver. No furhter details were given on that attack in a statement from the prosecutor's office.

Spokesperson Katherine Carter said that while authorities could not comment on how the cases were tied together, "the one thing that was in common is that he did meet them for the purpose of intimate encounters."

In the indictment, Wheeler-Weaver is charged with three counts of murder, three counts of desecration of human remains, kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, attempted murder, and aggravated arson.

Carter said Wheeler-Weaver has been incarcerated since shortly after the Butler killing, and is being held on $5 million bail.

"Obviously there's a certain amount of relief that he's off the streets, but we still have a long way to go in terms of prosecuting him," Carter said.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or