The Apriel Allen murder case was the subject of the tenth episode of the true-crime series "ATL Homicide" on TV One. Allen was a 38-year-old mother who was found dead in her bedroom by her teenage son in 2004.
"ATL Homicide" recreates cases as told by David Quinn and Vince Velazquez, two retired Atlanta Police Department homicide detectives. Quinn has called the show "like an APD greatest hits LP for us."
See the AJC's coverage of previous episodes: Tereon Grant | Alan Watson | Shaquilla Weatherspoon | John Ray | Sparkle Rai | Jerry Heard | Willie Bell | Cassandra Bryant | Antwan Curry
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution only briefly covered Allen's killing in 2004. Three years later, the paper returned to her case when Charles Lendelle Carter was charged with her murder. Carter was later convicted of three murders and suspected of two more, making him one of Georgia's most notorious serial killers.
From Oct. 22, 2004:
ATLANTA: Teen finds mother stabbed to death
Atlanta police do not have a motive or a suspect in the stabbing death of a 38-year-old woman. The teenage son of Apriel F. Allen found her dead in an upstairs bedroom of their home in the 600 block of Martin Street about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, said police Sgt. John Quigley. She had been stabbed several times, police said. They said there was no sign of forced entry into the apartment.
From Aug. 17, 2007:
Stories from a serial killer?
Suspect who tells police he did 'bad things' charged in 4 slayings, but is feared to have left more victims.
By Beth Warren
Local chef Charles Lendelle Carter told police he has trouble sleeping at night because he is often haunted by the faces of his victims.
Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office
Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office
Police say he has reason to lie awake because he's a serial killer whose crimes have just come to light. When Fulton County police detectives recently solved a homicide, they unwittingly stumbled onto Carter, who they believe hunted victims in at least four counties dating back 15 years.
And authorities want him to keep talking because they believe there could be even more.
There's the mother of six who was beaten and strangled the day after Christmas 2005 in Gwinnett County; the Alpharetta mother who was stabbed in 2006 and found when her son returned home from middle school; the man dragged behind a school in DeKalb County in 1992 and riddled with bullets; the Atlanta mother of three who was sexually assaulted and stabbed in 2004, found in her bloodied bed by her teenage son.
Carter, 39, is charged with murder in all four of those slayings and faces a death penalty trial in Fulton County for the Atlanta crime. He is due in court next month for pretrial hearings.
He confessed to the DeKalb County homicide and admitted he has done "bad things," but he asked for a lawyer and pleaded not guilty to the other slayings, said former Fulton County police homicide Investigator Glenn Kalish, who teamed with Detective Michael Lindstrom to close in on Carter last year.
Carter is also a "person of interest" in the 2003 abduction and death of Brittany LeAnn King, 16, in Henry County, but he has not been charged.
Carter told police he would volunteer to work double shifts as a chef to stay busy, sleeping on a little storage room cot and asking his co-workers to keep him from going outside "so I wouldn't do something bad," said Kalish, now a Sandy Springs police sergeant.
"He's psychotic," said Kalish, who has been in law enforcement for 14 years. "Without question, he's the most disturbed person I've ever come across."
Single mom Lisa Rosenthal, 40, who worked at home in computer sales, walked her boys to the entrance of her Alpharetta area condo complex and watched them shuffle off to school on the bus.
She headed home, where she would soon face the fight of her life. Police believe she opened her door to Carter, who had dated her friend.
Hours later, her youngest son rushed off the school bus and headed inside his family's home on Red Deer Way, where he found his mother dead on the floor. She had been stabbed in the arms and face as she fought her attacker, but the fatal blow came from a knife in her back that punctured her left lung and penetrated her heart.
The boys' video game equipment and DVD movies were stolen and pawned. Police found one of those movies with the youngest boy's fingerprint at an area pawnshop. Charles Carter had signed his name as the property owner. That gave police the evidence to arrest Carter a month after the killing. Fulton detectives teamed with Norcross police to find Carter, who was living at an extended stay hotel in Norcross with his mother.
They didn't know that was just the beginning.
During police interviews, Carter rambled for more than an hour about himself and his problems as detectives patiently listened, hoping he would eventually get around to discussing his crimes.
He talked about his bleak childhood, calling his mother domineering and abusive and his father abusive.
He hinted to his dark side, a part he fought to control. He said he didn't want his son to grow up to be like him.
Kalish wanted to know about the case, what happened to the Alpharetta mother. Instead, Carter prattled on about killing a man in DeKalb County and tossing his body behind a school. He hadn't been a suspect in that cold case before, but he gave enough details to link him to the March 16, 1992, slaying of Michael Leon Sneed, 35. Sneed was abducted from a Lawrenceville Highway gas station during an apparent robbery and shot several times behind Henderson High School. Joggers soon found his body.
Kalish tried to encourage Carter to come clean about other crimes.
"I think initially he wanted help," the detective said. "We got to the point where I think he wanted it off his chest."
Carter asked detectives to bring his mother and father and sister to police headquarters so he could tell them what he had done.
His sister and father sat quietly, but when Carter began to talk, his mother interrupted and told him to hush up and get a lawyer. Kalish said Carter pleaded: "But Mom, I need to tell you." She sternly again told him to be quiet.
Atlanta mom Apriel Allen, 38, said good-bye to her 16-year-old son as he rushed off to school on Oct. 20, 2004.
He came home later and found her lying in her bed covered in blood.
The mom, who had twin boys in college, put up a good fight downstairs and then upstairs, knocking over furniture and trying to block the knife's blade as it slashed her arms and hands. But she had been overpowered, sexually assaulted, stabbed and beaten.
It was a tough case. There were no witnesses or signs of a break-in and her family, and friends couldn't think of anyone who would harm the hardworking administrative assistant.
Atlanta police hadn't heard of Carter, who was then a chef at Norcross' Asiago.
So police entered the killer's DNA profile, obtained through semen left at the scene, into the GBI DNA database, hoping for a hit.
It would take two years before they got their break.
After Carter's arrest in the Alpharetta case, his DNA profile was entered into the statewide database — leading to a match with the old Atlanta case. Atlanta police then went back to the victim's family and friends, asking if anyone knew Charles Carter. Allen had told friends that she had met Carter at a restaurant and that he dropped by her home and refused to leave her alone, said Vincent Velazquez, who works with the Fulton DA's Cold Case Squad.
Possibly another case
Norcross resident Angela Thayer Green enjoyed Thanksgiving with her mother, grandmother, cousins and her six children.
They flipped through old photographs and laughed at her wacky hairstyles.
The next time Green's mother saw her, she was lying in a casket.
Green, 35, had disappeared the day after Christmas 2005. She was going to visit a friend, who had once dated Carter, but she never returned. She was found a day later inside her friend's apartment. She had been beaten and strangled.
Gwinnett County police homicide Detective Brian Ray declined to discuss specifics of the case but confirmed he has charged Carter with the slaying.
There's possibly another slaying. Henry County police say they're not yet ready to make an arrest, but they consider Carter a "person of interest" in the May 2003 death of a Decatur teen, said police Capt. Jason Bolton.
Brittany LeAnn King told her mother she was headed to the movies. Eight days later, on May 24, 2003, her body was found in an abandoned house in Henry County. Police traced a car left behind the house to Carter's cousin, who said he believed Carter had taken his car. Carter, whose father lives in Henry County, told police he didn't know the dead teen and wasn't driving in the area of the abandoned house. Instead, Carter claimed he had been carjacked days earlier while in his cousin's car, Bolton said.
The detective in the north Fulton case said he hopes Carter will decide to talk more about his crimes for the sake of the victims' families.
"I honestly believe there are more bodies out there," Kalish said. "He is just so deeply disturbed, for whatever reason, that killing is just a part of his life."
Staff writer David Simpson contributed to this article.
From May 3, 2011:
Man suspected in more slayings
Police: Norcross murderer may have killed 2 others.
By Andria Simmons
Charles Lendelle Carter received his third life sentence for murder this year and described himself in court as a "monster or whatever."
Yet authorities aren't certain how many times he has killed.
Over the past year, the 43-year-old Norcross man has pleaded guilty to two slayings in Fulton County and one in Gwinnett County. The victims were:
- Apriel Allen, 38, an administrative assistant who was stabbed and sexually assaulted at her townhome in Atlanta on Oct. 20, 2004.
- Angela Thayer Green, a mother of six who was found strangled to death Dec. 27, 2005, at a friend's apartment in Norcross.
- Lisa Rosenthal, 40, a single mother of two who was stabbed in the face and back at her Alpharetta home on Jan. 12, 2006.
Police in two other metro Atlanta counties are also looking at Carter in connection with two killings.
A review of the Gwinnett County district attorney's investigative file on Carter, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via an open records request, provided an in-depth look at the slayings for which he has been convicted, and some new information about killings for which he is a suspect.
Carter lived with his mother at an extended-stay hotel in Norcross and bounced between restaurant jobs as a chef. On the day of Green's slaying, he showed up for work at a now-defunct restaurant in Norcross with blood on his pants.
He was also known as something of a small-time crook. He was arrested 15 times between 1987 and 1997 on charges involving theft, deception, battery, aggravated assault, probation violations and traffic offenses.
But no one suspected the scope of his crimes until he became a suspect in Rosenthal's death. One of the DVD movies stolen and pawned from her home still had her younger son's fingerprint on it. Carter signed the pawn receipt.
Carter avoided talking about Rosenthal when police brought him in for questioning. But, according to the investigative file, he revealed that he had killed a man in DeKalb County and tossed his body behind a school. That's when, according to the file, Carter told detectives that he "might be some kind of monster" and serial killer.
He calmly confessed that he thought about killing his kids so they wouldn't grow up to be like him and have the urges that he has, the file says. Police also say he told them he had multiple personalities.
The killings for which Carter was convicted had similarities. He tended to prey upon people who were having problems in life, Gwinnett County Assistant District Attorney Stephen Fern said.
Carter also knew the victims. He had a short relationship with Allen. He dated friends of the other two women. He was familiar with the layout of their homes.
And he was calculating, Fern said, waiting until the kids were gone before he attacked their mothers.
Possible links in DeKalb, Henry
DeKalb police filed a warrant against Carter in November, charging him with murder in the March 16, 1992, shooting of Michael Leon Sneed, 35. The account Carter described in his Gwinnett investigative file of killing a man behind a school in DeKalb resembles what happened to Sneed.
Sneed was abducted from a Lawrenceville Highway gas station by a man who stole his wallet and car, shot him several times and left him for dead behind Henderson High School.
Investigators in the District Attorney's Office must review the evidence before they decide whether to prosecute, Chief Assistant District Attorney Nicole Marchand said.
Richard Thomas was only 13 when his stepfather was killed. Now 34 and living in Roswell, Thomas still remembers being devastated when his mother and three siblings learned Sneed was dead. Thomas said that Sneed, a devout churchgoer and insurance underwriter, had raised him and his siblings as his own after marrying their mother.
A DeKalb detective told them last year that Carter was identified as a suspect in Sneed's death. Thomas said relief washed over him.
"It was just a big burden off us because we just didn't know who or why when it happened," Thomas said. "I just want to see the guy gets what he deserves, whether he is prosecuted for Mr. Sneed or the other parties."
Police in Henry County are also taking a second look at the May 2003 killing of a 16-year-old runaway, Brittany LeAnn King, to see whether Carter was responsible. His father lives in Henry County, and a car belonging to Carter's cousin was found behind the abandoned house where King's body was recovered. The cousin told police he thought Carter had taken his vehicle.
Carter said he didn't know the teen, according to court records. He claimed the vehicle had been carjacked days earlier.
Maj. Joe Jackson of the Henry County Police Department said Friday that a detective will review the case in light of Carter's recent convictions.
Carter reneges on Fulton plea
In June, Carter filed a motion to withdraw his guilty pleas in Fulton, claiming that his lawyers pressured him to confess.
A hearing on the motion is likely to be scheduled this month, said Sheila Ross, Fulton's chief assistant district attorney. If the judge allows him to withdraw the plea, prosecutors would try to use Carter's apology to the victims' families against him at trial, Ross said.
At the May 3, 2010, plea hearing, Carter told the families of Allen and Rosenthal that they were "strong women, good women." He said they didn't deserve to die, and he regretted killing them.
"Whatever I am, a monster or whatever," Carter said, "I do have a conscience and I am sorry."
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