True Crime in Real Time: Friend of Murder Victim Catches Killer Using Dating Apps, He Totally Tried This at Home Kids

Dating sure has changed over the past few years. Between having to advertise your relationship needs like a human-shaped product and the oft demoralizing success ratio of good dates, finding an online love buddy has become a huge pain in the butt. Yet, despite the agony of modern dating, there is one upside: When you catch the serial killer who murdered your best friend.

The crazy story of catfishing for justice happened in New Jersey after a string of women went missing during dates they’d arranged on an app called Tagged. The serial murders took place in a flurry between August and November, with no evidence left behind to connect the slayings. Until five days after the final victim, Sarah Butler disappeared, and her friends hacked into her Tagged account to get to the bottom of the mystery themselves.

Together the friends searched Butler’s inbox until they identified the screen name of the last dude she went on a date with which contained the eerie final message, “You’re not a serial killer, right?” With goosebumps fully flexed, they created a fake profile, and after weeks of trying, were able to lure him out to a Panera Bread in North Jersey.

When the guy showed up, the police were waiting for him. Although they couldn’t arrest him that day, they now had a lead suspect in the murders and were able to quickly piece together a solid case using cell phone data, text messages, and Google searches.

Then, just days after discovering Butler’s body in a nature reserve, police arrested 25-year-old Khalil Wheeler-Weaver, who was found guilty of three counts of murder, attempted kidnapping, and sexual assault, and is now spending 160 years in prison.

Had it not been for that nosy group of friends taking matters into their own hands, Wheeler-Weaver may have never been caught. We’re not saying you should quit dating apps cold turkey, but you might want to start giving your friends the details of your dates ahead of time. And if someone tries to take you out on a first date to Panera, just walk away.

Cover Photo: Khosrork (Getty Images)

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