For Vivian Chavis, it was a tragedy that touched four generations of her family.
She lost her mother, sister, niece and great-nephew, and the man accused of killing them is a former boyfriend who was probably looking for her.
Alexander Roosevelt Hill, the man accused of murdering Chavis’ family members and setting fire to their house in Virginia last year, was recently found in Buffalo and arrested by U.S. marshals.
On Thursday, a federal judge rejected Hill’s contention that he’s really someone else, “Trent Dales,” and ordered him sent back to Virginia to face murder charges. U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott found that “without question,” Dales is really Hill.
Scott’s ruling came after a Petersburg, Va., detective and a deputy U.S. marshal testified about fingerprints, scars and Hill’s hazel eyes, and why they’re convinced he’s the same man who is accused of killing four people in Petersburg.
Hill had been on the run for nearly a year before he was finally found at St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy on Buffalo’s East Side. Investigators say he was living there.
Detective Na’Shayla Nelson of the Petersburg Bureau of Police, who has been working the case since the murders last April, pointed to Hill while on the stand Thursday and said there’s no question he is same man she’s been looking for.
“I had a photo of Mr. Hill taped to my wall,” Nelson said at one point.
“Why is that?” asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel L. Violanti.
“So I could always remember what he looked like,” she said.
In custody since last week, Hill, 48, is accused of murdering Pauline Wilkins, 67; Vicki Chavis-Ansar, 46; Tanique Chavis, 22; and 18-month-old Delvair Chavis.
Police say Hill stabbed Wilkins and Chavis-Ansar and then set fire to the house, which killed Chavis and her son. Vivian Chavis, Hill’s former girlfriend, was not at home at the time of the murders.
At Violanti’s urging, Nelson took the judge through her year-long search for Hill, an investigation that took her to Virginia, Texas and North Carolina.
“We had a tip that he had been taken there,” Nelson said of a small town in North Carolina.
At that point, Violanti produced photos of a man inside a restaurant in Weldon, N.C.; Nelson said it was Hill.
She also testified about the various warrants for Hill’s arrest, and noted that the initial ones were for possession of child pornography, not murder. She said the warrants were based on images found on Hill’s personal computer.
When asked how she could identify Hill so easily, Nelson referred to a scar on his chest and a bump on his forehead. She said Hill also used the nickname “Real Deal,” a moniker he continued to use in Buffalo.
“He used it when he met people and on social media,” Nelson said.
Violanti also introduced evidence and testimony that Hill opposed efforts to fingerprint him last week and, at one point, actually struggled with police officials trying to take those prints. The FBI later confirmed that those prints matched Hill’s previous prints.