U.S. investigators are probing a potential link between a suspected serial killer and a B.C. woman who disappeared nine years ago.

Neal Falls, 45, was fatally shot on July 18 as he attacked and choked a woman in Charleston, West Virginia. The woman, an escort whom police are calling Heather, grabbed his handgun off the ground and fired it.

During a search of Falls’s vehicle, police found axes, knives, handcuffs, a shovel, garbage bags and bleach, raising suspicions that Fall had attacked women before.

They also found a list of 10 other escorts in his pocket. Police believe Heather may have saved their lives by shooting Falls.

Investigators are now searching for links to unsolved disappearances or slayings of woman across the U.S., including former Kamloops, B.C. resident Jessica Foster.

Foster, 21, vanished in 2006 in Las Vegas and an extensive search failed to track her down. She was employed as a sex worker at the time.

Police say there is evidence linking Falls to three escorts who were found dismembered on the side of a road in the area a year earlier. Foster's disappearance is part of the investigation.

The torso of a fourth woman, who was reported missing from Las Vegas in 2003, was also found wrapped in plastic near the Nevada-California border.

Foster's mother Glendene Grant told CTV Vancouver that she's holding out hope that her daughter is still alive, but if Falls turns out to be her daughter’s killer, she's ready to make peace with her death.

"He's already dead so my healing process has already begun," Grant said. "My thought is that there is not someone out there that could be committing more crimes," she added.

Grant was also grateful for Heather's efforts to fight off and kill Falls.

"I think that woman … is a hero," said Grant.

"I want to talk to her and hug her and tell her how proud I am of her," she added.

Police have yet to find any major crimes in Falls' record, however authorities in as many as 20 U.S. states had interactions with him.

With files from The Associated Press and a report from CTV Vancouver's Kent Molgat