You don’t hear much about the case of William Jennings Choyce. But he was an African American serial killer in California who killed and targeted prostitutes. At the time of some of the killings, William Jennings Choyce was married to a woman named Alice Swafford. Alice will tell her story tonight on Investigation Discovery’s docu-series Evil Lives Here. In a first person narrative, Alice Swafford will give a chilling account of what it was like to live with a seemingly normal father and husband, who turned out to be a rapist and serial killer. The episode name for tonight’s Evil Lives Here is “Our House Or Horrors.”
According to Evil Lives Here, Alice describes how she admired the perfect life of her childhood neighbor, William Jennings Choyce. But years later, when she married him, she learned that the doting father and husband had a terrible secret.
Alice (Swafford) fell in love with William Jennings Choyce from the first time that she met him. He was handsome and came from a good family who had money. At times, he confided in her that he felt he could never meet up to his mother’s expectations.
What Alice didn’t know at the time was that her husband’s problem was much deeper. By day, he acted as any normal person, but by night he would leave the home, and then return with an explanation as to where he had been. The explanation never seemed exactly believable. Deep down inside, Alice always knew that something was off about her husband. Yet, she could never put her finger on it.
Investigators say what was really going on was that William Jennings Choyce, a truck driver, was picking up prostitutes for sex. But, he was cheap. He never wanted to pay the girls. Jennings Choyce would pick them up, get the women into his truck, and then he would hold them at gunpoint before raping them. A few women survived his attack, which is how police detectives came to know how he most likely committed the murders.
In the 1980s, William Jennings Choyce was arrested for soliciting a prostitute. Years later, in 2004, his DNA linked him to the deaths of two of the three prostitutes that he murdered. Lawanda Beck was found murdered in August 1997. She was shot to death with the same gun that was used to kill another prostitute named Gwen Lee that same year. DNA also linked Choyce to the 1988 Oakland murder of Victoria Sue Bell.
On ID’s Evil Lives Here, you’ll learn about his victims.
Vickie Bell (Victoria Bell)
- The body of Victoria Bell was found next to a pile of debris at an old truck bay.
Gwen Lee (Gwendolyn Lee)
- Gwen Lee’s body was found at a pole barn located in a rural area. She had died of gunshot wounds to the head. Gwen Lee’s family loved her. Her young daughter remembered having to help fight to get her mother out of crack houses. She was devastated when she heard about her death. Gwendolyn Lee was very beautiful. People who knew her say that although she was a prostitute, she always dressed impeccably and carried herself as a classy lady. Gwen wasn’t the type to look unkempt.
- Lawanda Beck’s nude body was found a month after Gwen Lee’s on an old country road. She had been dumped in the brush. An autopsy report showed that she had been shot. Her throat had also been cut. Lawanda’s body was identified by the same loving foster mother who had tried to help her so many times in the past. According to The Record’s Deciding Death, she became a prostitute after life became too difficult to bear. Beck’s mother died from drugs, and her father was also dead. Before her mother’s death, she had been abused by several of her men. After her mother and grandmother both died, Gwen had no one to care for her. She had even lost contact with her brother, who didn’t learn until years later that his sister, Gwen, had been murdered. Her children still cry and beg to hear stories about their mom.
Evil Lives Here will reveal the one thing that made William Jennings Choyce particularly dangerous: the fact that he didn’t look like a killer.
Jennings Choyce carried himself well. He spoke well and seemed educated. Even in court, he was polite and in a good mood through most of the proceedings. William cried when his father took the stand.
Authorities say that life wasn’t supposed to turn out this way for William Jennings Choyce, whose parents always tried to instill wholesome values in him. They also revealed that Choyce was never on their radar as a serial killer. The DNA was his undoing. He was sentenced to death, Murderpedia reported.
Listen to the story of William Jennings Choyce from the perspective of his former wife, Alice Swafford on Evil Lives Here,:”Our House Of Horrors,” which airs tonight at 10/9 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery.
- Note: On the show’s preview write-up, the woman’s name is listed as Alice Swanson. However, the book Conquering Darkness: Memoir of the Serial Killer’s Wife, is authored by an Alice Swafford.
[Featured Image by Paul Sancya/AP Images]