HOUSTON – The Harris County Sheriff’s Office was celebrating another cold case victory after solving the eight-year-old murder case of a Houston woman who had served in the U.S. Army and helped raise six children.
Shonda Alexander had been honorably discharged from the military, but detectives say she followed the wrong man to Houston. When he left, they say she turned to prostitution to make ends meet.That’s how she met McWhorter, according to detectives.
Alexander’s abandoned body was found on July 21, 2004 in northwest Harris County.
"She was so young. She still had time to get her life together. It was taken away from her," said Della Campbell, the victim’s sister.
McWhorter lived in the victim’s neighborhood, but he was never a suspect. In fact, he wasn’t even interviewed.
For nearly eight years, McWhorter remained off the radar. Then he made a mistake. McWhorter got caught stealing parts off an 18-wheeler in Corpus Christi. DNA was drawn and a match was made.
McWhorter was scheduled for release in October from a Texas prison where he was serving time for stealing the truck equipment. Instead, he faces capital murder charges in the 2004 death of Alexander, 36.
The new charge, which could carry the death penalty, was filed Wednesday by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit, which was resurrected by Sheriff Adrian Garcia when he took office in January 2009.
Since then, the unit—investigator sergeants Bobby Minchew and Eric Clegg and research assistant Rebecca Sweetman—has brought charges against 13 killers who took the lives of a total of 15 people in cases that had been considered dormant and unresolved for several years.
“Why there was not an active Cold Case Unit before, I have no idea. But (on taking office) I considered it a total disrespect to the surviving victims in these murders,” Sheriff Garcia said. “I am proud of these crime-fighters who have been working tirelessly to help bring closure to the extent that we can to these families and the memories of the victims.”
Minchew recently called Alexander’s survivors in Oklahoma and told them the cold case had been solved.
“There’s no better feeling in law enforcement that I think of,” Minchew said. “Maybe they can sleep better at night.”
Other women were mysteriously murdered at the time and detectives are looking at whether McWhorter may be linked to them as well.
He's being held without bond.