Volunteer who worked with Alexander Hill Jr. at N.Y. shelter speaks out after arrest

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WRIC) — After months of fleeing from authorities, the man charged with murdering a Petersburg family of four is now behind bars.

U.S. Marshals confirmed that Alexander Hill Jr. was captured around 10 a.m. on Thursday at soup kitchen in Buffalo, New York, called St. Luke’s Mission. He was arraigned in front of a Federal Magistrate Court judge in Buffalo.

“Thousands of hours have been spent over the past year seeking Hill and the collaboration of local and state authorities and their persistence to bring Hill to justice prevailed,” a release from Petesburg Police Department.

U.S. Marshals said Hill had fake identification, and had been going by the name of Trent Dales.

A man who worked at St. Luke’s shelter told 8News sister station WIVB that Hill had been in the city for at least a month. The volunteer, who asked to remain anonymous, said he cut Hill’s hair multiple times, and even worked with him to replace pipe in a home on Leroy Street as recently as last week.

He said he was shocked to find out the man with whom he’d been working was an accused killer.

“I was angry. I was just angry. He seemed like an honest person. He seemed like a family person. He talked about his family. He said he was a family guy. He had a girlfriend,” he said. “I thought he was a decent dude. And when I found out, it blew my mind. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep.”

He said the arrest shakes him to the core.

“After awhile, he was also helping out at the church. The church has a homeless shelter for women and children. And reading about what he did, especially the 2-year-old child, just broke my heart.”

The volunteer said he was relieved Hill was in a jail cell Thursday night, rather than roaming the streets of Buffalo.

“Nobody like that should be walking around. Nobody. Nobody like that,” he said. “There’s a lot of evil people out here. The good people gotta stand up. I mean, if something would have happend to somebody in this city, knowing what I know, I’m just as guilty.”

Hill was charged just last Sunday with four counts of first degree murder in connection to the deaths of Pauline Wilkins, her daughter Vicki Chavis, her granddaughter Missy Chavis and her 2-year old great-grandson last April.

Authorities are traveling to Buffalo to continue the investigation, according to the U.S. Marshals.

Hill fled the Petersburg area shortly after the killings, according to U.S. Marshals. Authorities had determined that Hill traveled to Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, by taxi just after midnight on April 20, 2014. Later that morning, police say Hill paid a man to drive him to the Amtrak station in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

Until now, Hill had fallen off law enforcement’s radar.

In a news release sent out on Friday, U.S. Marshals thanked a ‘tipster’ who helped them find Hill.

“I would like to thank the tipster who called into the Buffalo U.S. Marshals office with information regarding Hill’s location at St. Luke’s Mission. My deputies were fast to act and apprehend this suspect quickly and without incident. They did an outstanding job today. Thanks to the tipster, another dangerous fugitive is behind bars.”

In total, $15,500 in rewards were offered for his capture.

After hearing word of the arrest, family and friends gathered around a memorial garden at the site of where Pauline Wilkins, her daughter Vicki Chavis, her granddaughter Missy Chavis and her two-year old great-grandson were killed.

“I am overjoyed today. We thank the community, the U.S. Marshals and the Petersburg PD for all their work,” said a family member of the victims, Vanessa Washington.

One relative 8News spoke with says he’s been holding onto the newspaper that came out when Hill was still listed as a person of interest since the family was murdered. He says he’s kept it as a reminder to pray for Hill’s capture and arrest, calling the past year a nightmare.

Kent Phelps speaks to 8News about the newspaper he's held onto since the family was murdered.
Kent Phelps speaks to 8News about the newspaper he’s held onto since the family was murdered.

“He brought a lot of pain to the family and the community as a whole,” Kent Phelps said. “It’s been real difficult for the fact not knowing where he was at and the act that he did right here at my aunt’s house.”

Hill will return to court again before being extradited to Virginia. The family says they plan to be in court whenever he next has a court date in Petersburg.

Stay with us for the latest updates and information on air, online and on social media.

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