February 19, 1993, was forever etched into the memory of Sylvia Denise Sumpter. On that day, she learned that her daughter, Shawna Hawk, was dead at their apartment in Charlotte, North Carolina. More than a year later, serial killer Henry Louis Wallace confessed to killing her. ABC News’ ‘20/20: Lock the Door Behind You’ focuses on the horrific case and features an interview with Dee, who has since gone on to start a non-profit organization. So, if you’re curious to find out more, here’s what we know.
Who is Dee Sumpter?
At the time of the incident, Dee lived with her 20-year-old daughter, Shawna Hawk, in an apartment in Charlotte. Shawna was a paralegal student at a local community college and worked at a Taco Bell restaurant. On February 19, 1993, Dee returned home but noticed Shawna wasn’t there. However, her coat and purse were in a closet. She checked with Shawna’s boyfriend, who hadn’t seen her either.
Dee thought it was unusual that her daughter left without her coat and purse. Worried, she called the police to file a missing person report. The boyfriend, who arrived to comfort Dee, looked around the house and found Shawna in the bathtub in the downstairs bathroom. She was submerged in water. First responders rushed the young woman to the hospital, but she was pronounced dead there. An autopsy revealed that Shawna was strangled to death.
The authorities were eventually led to Henry Wallace, Shawna’s manager at the restaurant. Henry later confessed, saying that he stopped by her home and talked for a while. As he was leaving, Shawna hugged him, after which Henry told her he wanted to have sex with her. In the bedroom, the two performed oral sex on each other before having sex, and Henry told the police that Shawna was scared and was crying the whole time.
Then, Henry asked Shawna to put on clothes and took her to the bathroom. There, he choked the 20-year-old and filled the bathtub with water, putting her in it. Henry also confessed to taking money from her purse. Later on, he even showed up at Shawna’s wake, which angered Dee. She said, “This is some kind of a bold demon here, one like never before. He had the literal gall to show up at a service for someone that he knew he personally killed.”
Where is Dee Sumpter Now?
Dee was devastated by her daughter’s loss and believed the police could have done more during the investigation. She said, “For some unknown reason, they just couldn’t connect the dots. There was not a level of caring. This is where the racial disparity comes in. Obvious, obvious connections… in my humble opinion, blatantly ignored.” After her daughter’s loss, Dee started a nonprofit organization called Mothers of Murdered Offspring along with two others. This organization aims to help the families of people who lost their lives in a homicide.
Apart from supporting the families through their grief, Mothers of Murdered Offspring created programs that look into violence prevention. While Dee isn’t as actively involved in the organization anymore, she still supports it. Dee added, “I just wanted mothers to come together and join our forces and our hearts. Not allow the anger and violence to rule our lives. I fight for my own breath sometimes. I fight to be here living right now.” She still lives in Charlotte, and apart from spending time with family, she works as a receptionist at a local church.
Read more: Where is Henry Louis Wallace Now?