Sex Worker Who Unwittingly Killed an Alleged Serial Killer 'Saved Lives,' Say Cops

Sex Worker Kills Alleged Serial Killer Neal Falls in West Virginia
Neal Falls (left) and the woman identified only as Heather
Charleston Police Department

07/27/2015 AT 10:15 AM EDT

Police believe that a man killed last week by a sex worker in Charleston, West Virginia, may have been a serial killer.

The man, identified as 45-year-old Neal Falls, was killed by a woman he met in the escort section of Backpage.com, according to NBC News. He showed up at the woman's home last week armed with a gun. "Live or die?" he allegedly asked when she opened the door. Then he began choking her.

"When he strangled me, I grabbed my rake, and when he laid the gun down to get the rake out of my hands, I shot him," the woman, who asked to be identified only as Heather, told CBS News of the harrowing encounter. "I grabbed the gun and shot behind me."

But it turned out that her actions may have saved lives. Authorities told NBC News that a search of Falls' car revealed what they described as a "kill kit": a collection of handcuffs, knives, axes, a sledgehammer, a bulletproof vest, another gun, shovels, bleach and other cleaning supplies.

Sex Worker Who Unwittingly Killed an Alleged Serial Killer 'Saved Lives,' Say Cops| Crime & Courts, True Crime

Some of the items found in Neal Falls' car after he was killed by a woman police say he attacked on July 18

Charleston Police Department

"Based on the items this man had in his possession, it's hard to imagine this was only going to be a one-time event for him," said Steve Cooper, the Charleston Police Department's chief of detectives.

"It's likely that Mr. Falls is a serial killer," he added to CBS News.

The deceased 45-year-old is now suspected in the disappearances and deaths of at least four prostitutes in the Las Vegas area, as well as a half-dozen women in Chillicothe, Ohio. Falls lived near Las Vegas during the time the women disappeared.

Sex Worker Who Unwittingly Killed an Alleged Serial Killer 'Saved Lives,' Say Cops| Crime & Courts, True Crime

The four dead or missing women in Nevada from top left: Jodi Marie Brewer, Lindsay Marie Harris, Misty Marie Saens and Jessica Edith Foster

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office; U.S. National Missing and Unidentified Persons System; Foster family

Charleston police praised Heather's actions, with Cooper telling CBS News: "I believe she saved lives by shooting Mr. Falls, based on what he did to her and based on the items found in her car."

"I knew he was there to kill me," Heather said.

She will not be charged in the shooting, which police say was self-defense.

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