PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The story of an Oregon man killed by an escort in West Virginia has garnered national attention after it was revealed he had encounters with police in as many as 20 states.
Detectives believe 45-year-old Neal Falls from Springfield, Oregon may have been linked to several missing and murdered women across multiple states. Now, news outlets across the country are referring to him as a ‘possible serial killer’.
Falls, who arranged a meeting with an escort he met on Backpage.com, was reportedly killed when he tried to attack her. According to police, Falls beat and choked the woman at her Charleston, West Virginia home. When he laid his shotgun down, the woman grabbed it and shot him once, killing him.
“She had to defend herself and she shot him,” the woman’s neighbor said. “He pulled a gun on her, she’s got cuts and stuff all over her.”
Investigators found a slew of weapons in Falls’ SUV including axes, a shovel, bleach, handcuffs, knives, a machete and more.
“What comes to mind when you look at those items is a serial killer kit,” Charleston, West Virginia Police Lt. Steve Cooper said.
Now, police are looking for connections between Falls and 9 women murdered or reported missing in 3 other states.
Although on Monday it was revealed Falls had been questioned or interviewed by police in as many as 20 states, in Oregon, he had only a few minor traffic infractions on his record.
At one point in time, the Springfield man resided in Eugene. His former landlord and roommate, Pauline, spoke about her experience living with him.
“The first thing that he did that was a little odd was he immediately changed the deadbolt to his own,” Pauline said. “Only he had the key. And he said he had guns, weapons and that he was a security guard.
Falls also lived in Las Vegas for 8 years while working at the Hoover Dam. During his time there, 4 escorts disappeared. Three of the women’s bodies were found dismembered and discarded along various highways both in and out of state.
Had the West Virginia escort not killed Falls, police said they worry what could have happened next.
“I believe that [she] saved lives and hopefully we’ll be able to bring some closure to some other families too,” Lt. Cooper said. “If she didn’t fight back she most certainly would be dead.”
According to Lt. Cooper, Falls was staying in his car with a pillow and sleeping bag. He reportedly had no cash or credit cards with him.