'Serial killer' Neal Falls shot dead by prostitute

US woman, who is not being identified, used 45-year-old Neal Falls' gun to defend herself after he attacked her

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A female prostitute may have shot dead a notorious serial killer responsible for a spate of vicious – and unsolved – attacks on women.

Neal Falls, 45, was killed in a violent struggle with the woman – who is not being identified – after he arrived at her West Virginia home having answered her online advertisement.

When she answered the door, Falls asked the woman, who is being called Heather by authorities, whether she wanted to "live or die" and pointed a gun at her. During the struggle, "Heather" grabbed Falls’ handgun and shot him.

Afterwards, a ‘kill list’ was found in his pocket, leading officers to believe that Falls – who was also discovered to have knives, a bulletproof vest, a machete, rubbish bags and bleach inside the boot of his car – was targeting local sex workers.

"I knew he was there to kill me," the woman told local news station and Fox affiliate KPTV.

"I could tell that he had already done something because he said that he was going to prison for a long time. And that's when I knew he was gonna kill me."

The woman suffered a separated shoulder, broken vertebrate, strangulation marks around her throat and other injuries. Police say she acted in self-defence and will not be charged.

Although police authorities have not released the 10 names on the list, Lieutenant Steve Cooper of Charleston, West Virginia, told the Huffington Post that officers had located most of the women and that “they were all on a website advertising for escort services”.

He added that nine were in West Virginia and one was in San Diego. All the women are still alive.

"The stuff that we found is so alarming that we want law enforcement across the country to be aware of it," Lt Cooper added earlier this week.

The confrontation between the woman and Falls, of Springfield in Ohio, occurred on 18 July but police also believe it may be linked to a spate of violent crimes against women recently.

“The fact that he was 45 years old, and carrying tools like he was, and committing a crime that was so organised and so violent, it’s unlikely that this was his first violent crime,” Lt Cooper told The Times.

Although no major crimes have been found in Falls’s past, according to authorities he was under police investigation in at least 20 states – and is being looked into for links to the unsolved disappearance and possible killing of women around the US.

Among those investigated are four women killed between 2003 and 2006 in Las Vegas suburb Henderson, where Falls rented a room. In each case, body parts were found at the side of the road.

Information around Falls, who appears to have been living in his car at the time of the altercation, is still limited. “He had no cash, no credit cards,” Lt Cooper said.

“There’s something that we haven’t discovered yet.”