When Mamie Caldwell was found murdered in an apartment in Charlotte, North Carolina, the authorities quickly suspected her husband, Shabaka WaQlimi. As the investigation went forward, a troubled marriage came to the fore, with the couple having trouble financially. Investigation Discovery’s ‘American Monster: Once A Killer’ chronicles the story behind Mamie’s murder and how her killer was caught. So, let’s find out more about this case then, shall we?
How Did Mamie Caldwell Die?
Mamie was born and raised in South Carolina. She then moved to Fort Washington, Maryland, and worked for the Department of Labor in Washington DC. Mamie had three children from a previous marriage when she married Shabaka in 1988. The couple seemed to be doing well and moved to Charlotte about five years before the incident. The 71-year-old had retired by 2010 and was looking forward to another phase in her life when tragedy struck.
On September 13, 2012, authorities went to the apartment shared by Mamie and Shabaka to perform a welfare check on her. The family had not heard from Mamie for a while and were worried. There were no signs of forced entry, and most of the house seemed in order. However, there were signs of a struggle inside the bedroom, with blood on the carpet and a broken perfume bottle. Mamie was found inside the bathroom, covered with a blanket. She had multiple stab wounds and had also been strangled.
Who Killed Mamie Caldwell?
Shabaka was nowhere to be seen at the time. According to the show, surveillance video outside the apartment captured Mamie’s car leaving at around 6:45 AM. Furthermore, a neighbor reported hearing an argument at around 2:30 AM on September 13. As the authorities dug deeper into Shabaka’s past and the relationship, they learned more about the person they suspected to have killed Mamie.
Shabaka, then Joseph Brown, was on death row for 14 years before being released in 1987. He had been convicted of the rape and murder of a woman based on false testimony from his co-defendant. After his release, Joseph adopted the name Shabaka WaQlimi. He became a motivational speaker, talking about his time behind bars and urging others to stay out of trouble. He had also worked odd jobs as a truck driver, store clerk, and a cook at a homeless shelter.
The authorities also learned that the couple was struggling financially because Shabaka did not pay taxes on the money he made from speaking engagements. Their house in Fort Washington was foreclosed, and they moved to Charlotte because it was cheaper to live there. In 2003 and 2005, Mamie had filed domestic violence complaints against Shabaka. All signs pointed to a marriage going downhill, leading to a fatal conclusion.
Mamie’s car was then located in a motel in Charleston, South Carolina, where Shabaka was arrested. As per the show, he claimed not to remember what happened and asked for a lawyer. The authorities believed that the couple had an argument that turned violent, with Shabaka stabbing and strangling Mamie. He then moved the body to the bathroom and tried cleaning up before driving away in his wife’s car.
Where is Shabaka WaQlimi Now?
In September 2013, Shabaka, then 62 years old, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He was apologetic in court, saying to the family, “I cannot ever replace the loss I’ve taken from you. I loved your mom for 25 years. She was my life. I only ask, that today, the healing process will begin for all of you.” Shabaka was sentenced to serve 15 to 18 years behind bars. He remains incarcerated at the Pamlico Correctional Institution in Bayboro, North Carolina. Shabaka’s earliest projected release date is in 2027.
Read More: How Did Angela Drake Die?