The Story Of The Serial Killer Who Terrorized This Small West Virginia Town Is Truly Frightening
No one in Clarksburg knew he was a serial killer and arsonist. Many people thought they knew him; he was a local handyman – described as friendly by his neighbors and local police. But James E. Childers had a secret life. And even after his death, his secrets are still coming to light.
James Childers was 45 years old when he confessed. He was a local handyman who residents of Clarksburg thought was friendly and law abiding. But that was a mask he eventually shed.
In 2009, Clarksburg police lieutenant Robert Matheny received a package in the mail. In it were several letters and a two hour audio tape containing chilling confessions to five murders and four acts of arson. He claimed responsibility for two fires set on Northcott Street and other locations around Clarksburg. The confessions also led police to a location in Barbour County just off Route 57, where they recovered the decomposed remains of a female victim. The confessions indicated that police could find a second body at the Childers family farm on Bull Run Road. It also indicated that three more people had died at Childer's hand.
Shortly after the police issued a warrant for Childer’s arrest, deputies of the Harrison County sheriff’s department caught up with him at a motel. But before Childers could be arrested, he shot himself. Apparently, he wanted to confess, but refused to be captured.
Now it is a decade later, and police still have not found all of Childer’s victims.
The first two victims have been identified as 26 year old Carrie Lynn Baker of Clarksburg, who was killed by blunt force trauma to the head, and 40 year old Carolyn Sauerwein of Philippi, who was shot twice in the head. The remaining three victims that Childers claimed to have killed have not been located, but Clarksburg police believe that he is responsible for an unsolved 2004 murder that behavioral experts in the FBI believe matches Childer's profile. The victim, Ralph Hill of Mulberry Street, apparently knew Childers.
But with Childers dead and no more evidence to go on, it is unclear if the rest of the killer’s victims will be found, or if he committed more murders that police don’t even know about.
Unfortunately, we may never know the true scope of his crimes, and 10 years after his death, Clarksburg police have no more leads.
But residents of Clarksburg will never forget the hidden monster that Childers was, walking among them like a regular man. And his legacy may very well haunt the town for years to come.
What other chilling stories in West Virginia have you heard? Feel free to comment below and join the discussion.
For more true crime in West Virginia, take a look a these
six serial killers that lived in small towns in the state.
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