Confessed serial killer suspected in other slayings

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."