Louisiana Killer

"From The Lookin' For A Killer" Series & PC Book #19:

By

Bonnie M. Wells

This page consists primarily of news articles: My comments are in this {{color}}.

{{On July 14th, 1998, I wrote to Louisiana Chief of Police, Richard Pennington and said ...."Psychic work reveals: Ullman killed by different killer than other women in New Orleans: Other's killed by man of 5' 10", lean build, early 30's in age, blue eyes, shaggy hair of dark blond or light brown, almost shoulder length. Wears jeans and tennis shoes, also black boot type shoes occasionally. Owns vehicle, but has trouble with it. Something about oil leak - transmission leak, ... something leaking. Vehicle is light in color ...cream, pale gray, etc. Bulky type vehicle, not sports model: Tan colored fibers may be found on victims.....also red fibers.. don't know source: Drugs and alcohol trigger kills. Sadistic, but not rage killer. Ullman was killed by a "rage killer."

By May 2003, I had to wonder if I was right. Derrick Todd Lee was apprehended on May 27th, 2003. Reports contend that his DNA has been linked to at least five of the murdered women.

It now appears that I was as wrong as any, or all of the other profiler's that were working the Louisiana cases.

The arrest of Derrick Todd Lee revealed just how wrong I had been. He is a black man of 6' 1" height and weighs 210 pounds. Whether he dresses in jeans and tennis shoes, I do not know, but it is of no importance what so ever at this point and time. He is said to have worked construction work, so I'm guessing the black boots might have been accurate. There again, it is so insignificant that it makes no difference at all. I do not know the type of vehicle Lee drove, nor the color of it, but I noticed in one article that it said he'd been driving a dump truck for a construction company. I guess this could be considered a "bulky" vehicle, but I doubt it was gray or cream in color.

It appears that I got his age correct. I said he'd be in his early 30's, and facts show he is 34 years old.

Probably the only thing that stands out at this time is the fact that I wrote to Chief of Police Richard Pennington. I suppose this was natural since the man was the chief of police in the city where the Ullman murder occurred. However, Pennington was chief of police in New Orleans, not Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge was where the serial killer had been operating. And yet, I sent the information to Pennington.

I couldn't help but shake my head when Derrick Todd Lee was arrested in "Fulton" County Georgia! As if this is not weird enough, Richard Pennington is now the chief of police in that area!!!

Following are some of the news articles I've ran across concerning Derrick Todd Lee .....

PS: Special words within the articles will appear in this color: Any comments that I have will be listed at the bottom of the articles: News articles do NOT appear in Pure Coincidence Book #19 except for reference or verification purposes:

{{end of my comments - for now.}}

November 24th .... 2002

Dene Colomb's body was found on November 24th, 2002, but it wasn't until December 23rd that DNA evidence linked her death to the Baton Rouge serial killer.

"At the time Miss Colomb was discovered in Lafayette parish, we didn't have a full time forensic pathologist," says Roy Provost, Forensic Investigator. "She had to go to Jefferson Parish."

City-Parish Government approved the hiring of Lafayette's first forensic pathologist in over a decade. Dr. Cameron Snider's first order of business was becoming acquainted with South Louisiana's serial killer.

"Since he's been hired he's been briefed on all evidence that was found, on all the victims that were linked to the serial killer," says Provotst. "So he knows what to look for, and we're better prepared to handle that, God forbid, if we do find another female victim here in Lafayette parish."

If a body is found, Dr. Snider is more likely to notice a pattern, and get that information back to police much faster.

"We'll be able to recognize it and react more appropriately," says Provost.

State Legislators are also doing their part. Just last month they approved $650,000 to test a backlog of rape kits. They hope the DNA in one of those kits might match the evidence the serial killer left behind.

Profile Fits Aspects Of Suspects Life

By Penny Brown Roberts, James Minton and Derrick Nunnally

Advocate staff writers

"I have viewed my incarceration as a concrete measure in the understanding of what I want to do, and what I do not want to do. I do not want any more life of crime. I want to commit myself to good behavior."

That's what Derrick Todd Lee wrote from a prison cell in November 2000, but it wasn't enough to persuade 20th Judicial District Judge George H. Ware Jr. to shorten his sentence for fleeing from a police officer and stalking.

That is the only known commentary by the prime suspect in at least five and possibly more murders in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas and a string of other crimes since 1992.

But just what might have driven Lee from petty crimes and voyeurism to possibly rape and murder still remains a mystery.

"A look over the past I can see a better person than I once was," Lee wrote less than a year before Gina Wilson Green -- the first of five serial killer victims linked to Lee by DNA -- was found dead in her home. "I am … trying to become a better person whose life will not run astray of the laws."

But a vastly different picture has emerged since federal, state and local authorities initiated a nationwide manhunt for the man nabbed in Atlanta late Tuesday.

In fact, with a few notable exceptions, an FBI profile of the serial killer prepared in September presents a picture of Lee's life that described aspects of his life with striking accuracy.

The profile surmised the serial killer:

· Is a male between the ages of 25 and 35, who is physically strong. Lee is 34, and was known by neighbors to lift weights. He had recently bragged of bulking up to 210 pounds.

· Is a physical laborer earning below-average wages, with tight finances.

Lee worked off and on -- usually for a few months at a time -- in construction for companies throughout south Louisiana. A 1997 graduate of Diesel Driving Academy in Baton Rouge, Lee often worked as a truck driver. Around the time of the first known serial killings, he was a dump truck driver for J.E. Merit.

Hunting the Serial Killer:

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In November, he and his wife filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baton Rouge, claiming $84,742 in debts. Two weeks ago, a judge issued an order permitting a mortgage company to evict them from their home.

Tulane University School of Medicine Professor Dr. Sarah DeLand, a forensic psychiatrist, said a gregarious person like Lee might have been able to get away with being unreliable at work and in brushes with the law because being superficial can be mistaken as being forthcoming.

Said DeLand: "He had a side he showed to the world, and that's all anybody saw."

She added that Lee's scattering of crimes from Lake Charles to Baton Rouge and Zachary might track his apparent work history in the construction industry as a truck driver.

"If there was someplace that was way off Interstate 10, I would suspect he had some kind of business there or someplace to work there," she said. "From Lake Charles to Baton Rouge for a serial killer is really not that long a stretch of highway."

· Wants to be seen as attractive and appealing to women.

Those who know Lee say he often flirted with women in the workplace. News reports from Atlanta on Tuesday indicated Lee had gone around asking women if they were married, promising them cognac if they would go to his room.

· Has a history of run-ins with the law for seemingly minor offenses, including trespassing, breaking and entering and peeping. This might also include home intrusions at times when people are around.

Lee has been in trouble with the law on a near-annual basis for many years, arrested and charged with voyeurism, trespassing, criminal neglect of his family, stalking, aggravated battery, attempted first-degree murder, criminal damage to property and attempted flight from an officer.

In more than one incident, Lee was discovered in other people's homes by the homeowners.

Jacqueline Helfgott, a Seattle University professor of criminal justice who has researched psychopathic personality development, said Tuesday thatit is not unusual for serial killers to have a track record of lesser offenses, such as the voyeurism and exhibitionism. However, she is not familiar with the Louisiana killings or Lee.

Said Helfgott: "It takes a while for most people for fantasies to evolve into serial killing."

· May be abusive to the women with whom he has relationships.

In January 2000, Lee was >accused of beating his girlfriend, Consandra Green, in a bar in Solitude. He also was arrested for simple battery on his wife in September 2001, but the charge was dismissed a month later at her request, West Feliciana Parish records show.

· Is very determined and mission-oriented.

Dr. Jill Hayes Hammer, a forensic psychologist with the LSU Health Sciences Center, surmised that the short period between the attempted rape in Breaux Bridge in which Lee is a suspect and the serial killer's abduction and slaying of Pam Kinamore three days later may be related.

"Most of the time, if people are interrupted during the killing and they're not able to complete what they're doing, it leaves them very frustrated, angry and upset," Hammer said. "So Pam Kinamore may have been more of an impulsive killing so that he could finish what he had started before."

Hammer said she had been an "interested observer" of the investigation "with my fingers crossed, hoping something would happen."

DeLand also surmised a possible connection between Kinamore's July death and the attempted rape in Breaux Bridge.

"Something like that happens, and then their stress and frustration rises up even more," DeLand said. "Then their urge can increase even more. They already had it enough to take this incredible risk, and now they're frustrated" and angry.

The FBI profile does not match Lee's behavior in other respects. The profile hypothesizes that the killer probably is awkward around women. But those who know Lee describe him most often as gregarious, charming and flirtatious.

Helfgott said such accounts also seem typical of the personalities of some serial killers. Although a stereotype exists of serial killers as brooding loners, Helfgott said many have been noted extroverts, as Lee apparently is.

"It might not fit with the Jeffrey Dahmer-type, but it sure fits with the Ted Bundy-type," Helfgott said, noting that Bundy was often characterized as "very charming and outgoing" in general. "Serial murder is a behavior, and different types of personalities will produce that behavior. … Of course, the people who are charming have a lot easier access to victims."

Hammer said the "flashy and flirtatious" Lee apparently didn't fit the archetype of the serial killer who wants to blend in with a crowd to avoid detection -- another FBI profile detail that doesn't match Lee's apparent behavior.

Hammer said serial killers are usually "a little bit more intelligent than most impulsive killers" because they plot their exploits.

Said Hammer: "Most of the time, serial killers don't get caught."

DeLand said the months of "dormancy" between some killings in which Lee is suspected would fit the pattern of known serial killers if they were part of a "stress cycle" Lee felt.

Said DeLand: "They may have periods of time when things are going smoothly and they don't have the overwhelming urge to do this."

She added that the dormancies could correspond to when he was in jail on other offenses -- or it could be a time when Lee committed crimes authorities haven't yet connected to him.

"Sometimes, people are physically unable to act out even if they want to because they've been in jail or in a hospital," she said. "But unfortunately, unless somebody really wants to come clean about everything, there could be tons of things nobody knows about."

DeLand added that reports that Lee didn't flee Louisiana for weeks after being swabbed for the DNA that connects him to the serial killings of five women make sense for several reasons, given his track record.

"For some people, it's such a cat-and-mouse game that they cannot resist trying to win even if the odds are upped," DeLand said. "For other people that are sort of charming, they think there's some way they can talk their way out of it."

Lee Timeline:

AUGUST 1992: Connie B. Warner reported missing from her Oak Shadows Subdivision home in Zachary. Her body is found two weeks later in a ditch near Capitol Lake. Lee later named a suspect.

NOVEMBER 1992: Lee breaks into a Fenwood Hills Subdivision home and is discovered by the homeowner. Captured after fleeing to Azalea Rest Cemetery, where he was found with a bike stolen from the home. Charged with simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling. Lee is also charged with criminal neglect of family but the charge is dropped a year later because he is already in jail in East Baton Rouge Parish for burglary.

JANUARY 1993: Lee and another man charged with aggravated burglary in the beating of a 74-year-old Independence man and theft of cash from his home.

APRIL 1993: Two teen-agers attacked in a cemetery and injured by a man wielding a cane knife or machete. Investigators later say Lee was identified as the attacker by one of the victims, but too late to prosecute.

JULY 1993: State District Judge Curtis Calloway sentences Lee to prison for the November 1992 burglary.

JULY 1995: Lee released from prison. Remains under supervision until July 1997.

SEPTEMBER 1995: Lee arrested Sept. 6 in Lake Charles on suspicion of being a Peeping Tom and resisting arrest by flight. According to the police report, two residents complained about a man looking into their windows. Officers searched the area and spotted Lee nearby. He was arrested after a foot chase. He later pleaded guilty.

SEPTEMBER 1995: Lee arrested Sept. 24 in Lake Charles with another man for stealing bundles of clothing and a suitcase from a Salvation Army bin. Lee pleaded guilty and was placed on probation.

AUGUST 1997: Arrested on suspicion of being a Peeping Tom after a Zachary woman bumped into him while she was taking out her garbage off La. 964. He was caught after a Dixon Correctional Institute tracking team was called in, and booked with six counts of criminal trespassing, two counts of being a Peeping Tom and one count of resisting arrest.

APRIL 1998: Randi C. Mebruer abducted from her Oak Shadows Subdivision home in Zachary, where there were signs of a bloody struggle. Her body has not been found, but Lee is the prime suspect in her disappearance.

AUGUST 1999: Arrested as a suspected Peeping Tom and stalker in a series of incidents since June at St. Francisville Square Apartment off Commerce Street. One woman told police Lee walked into her residence uninvited. Received a suspended sentence for misdemeanor stalking.

JANUARY 2000: Booked with aggravated battery, attempted first-degree murder, criminal damage to property and aggravated flight from an officer. Accused of beating a woman in a bar in Solitude and trying to run over a deputy at a roadblock during his flight.

APRIL 2000: Lee convicted of flight from an officer in West Feliciana Parish and sentenced to prison for two years. A judge also revoked his probation on the stalking charge and orders him to serve nine months.

JANUARY 2001: Lee released from prison.

SEPTEMBER 2001: Gina Wilson Green found strangled in her Stanford Avenue home in Baton Rouge. Lee linked by DNA.

MAY 2002: Christine Moore reported missing May 24. Her remains were found June 16 off River Road in East Baton Rouge Parish near the Iberville Parish line. Lee named the prime suspect.

MAY 2002: Charlotte Murray Pace found stabbed to death May 31 in her Sharlo Avenue home south of LSU. Lee linked by DNA.

JULY 2002: Lee wanted in the July 9 attempted aggravated rape and attempted first degree murder of a north Breaux Bridge women in her home. Arrest warrant issued Tuesday.

JULY 2002: Pam Kinamore is abducted from her Biarwood Estates Subdivision home on July 12. Her body was found four days later near Whiskey Bay. Lee linked by DNA.

NOVEMBER 2002: Trineisha Dené Colomb attacked Nov. 21 near Grand Coteau north of Lafayette and found dead three days later in Scott. Lee linked by DNA.

MARCH 2003: Carrie Lynn Yoder abducted March 3 from her Dodson Avenue home south of LSU and found dead 10 days later near Whiskey Bay. Lee linked by DNA.

MAY 2003: Lee forced to submit a sample May 5 for DNA testing. Identified Monday as the only serial killer suspect.

MAY 27, 2003: Lee captured in Atlanta.

Serial Killer Suspect Waives Extradition

Following are bits and pieces of the entire article:

Serial killer suspect Derrick Todd Lee is headed back to Louisiana after waiving extradition in Atlanta./ Lee, 34, of St. Francisville, was soft-spoken and subdued in the Georgia courtroom, giving short answers to questions posed by a Fulton County Superior Court judge: / Lee was picked up by the Atlanta Fugutive Squad and the FBI near an Atlanta tire shop. / "The unit arrested Derrick Lee after receiving information from the FBI task force about his location," according to Atlanta police Chief Richard Pennington, who, one year ago, was the chief of police in New Orleans.

More News Clips About Lee

Killer Suspect Arrested

And Released Again And Again:

As dusk settled over La. 68, David McDavid watched a back hoe plunge its claw into the front yard of a tin-roofed home Derrick Todd Lee once shared with girlfriend Consandra Green.

Again and again, the mechanical scoop encountered nothing but clumps of dark, black earth.

As the hole grew deeper and the pile of excavated dirt taller, the Zachary Police Department lieutenant and others at the scene Thursday evening reached the inevitable conclusion: They weren't going to find the remains of Randi Mebruer that night.

There are more leads to follow and more sites to search. McDavid and others who suspect Lee killed Mebruer have a solemn purpose that keeps them on the hunt: Ensuring that he doesn't slip through the system again.

Lee is being held without bond in Parish Prison as the suspected serial killer on kidnapping, burglary, rape and first-degree murder counts, and is wanted in Lafayette and St. Martin Parish on more counts. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Doug Moreau said he will seek the death penalty.

Lee's arrest in the serial killings isn't his first foray into the criminal justice system. Not by any stretch.

Indeed, as details of his apparent lifelong lawlessness continue to emerge, victims, law enforcement officers and the public alike are asking the same question: How could a teenage Peeping Tom who graduated to abuse and perhaps rape and murder have eluded justice for so long -- and ultimately escaped the attention of a regional task force looking for someone just like him?

"The criminal justice system failed in the case of Derrick Todd Lee," said Cecile Guin, a forensic social worker with the LSU School of Social Work. "Everybody -- his family, his neighbors, law enforcement and even the judicial system knew there was something wrong with this guy. And no one was proactive enough to get him off the streets."

'A Dark Side'

Outside the Rosedale Down Apartments in St. Francisville, a then-15-year-old Derrick Todd Lee climbed up a pole to get a better view inside a second-floor apartment, former Police Chief Kenny W. Simmons remembers.

Moments later, the young woman living there caught a glimpse of a young boy peering in her window. She called police, who dispatched a nearby patrol car. Lee jumped off the second-floor balcony to escape, Simmons recalls, but got caught.

It was one of the first in a lengthy string of juvenile offenses for the boy who was raised by extended family, according to the veteran law enforcement official. Juvenile criminal records are not open to the public, so no additional information about that case or others is available.

"I've known Derrick for 20 years," Simmons said. "We've had trouble with him for quite some time. He was always into something."

As the boy grew into a man, Lee earned a reputation in his hometown for several distinguishing characteristics. In the construction business, he was known as one of the better concrete finishers in town, finding work that took him all over the Felicianas and East Baton Rouge Parish. Among acquaintances, he was considered a quintessential ladies' man with a predilection for flashy trucks.

Though Lee never seemed to hold the same job for very long, former employers consistently remember him as someone who -- despite being less-than-dependable -- never caused problems and often made passes at the women in the workplace. Said former Feliciana Redi-Mix manager Patrick Crain: "He was always flirting."

But police and deputies saw another side of Derrick Lee -- the one who never outgrew his teenage fetish; the one who was moving on to more serious crimes like burglary, assault and stalking.

"He had a dark side that we saw," said Zachary Police Chief Joey Watson. "We just didn't know how truly dark it was."

Inside just the St. Francisville courthouse, there are eight manila folders of criminal cases bearing the same name in various forms: Derrick Lee, Derrick T. Lee, Derrick Todd Lee. Though the crimes vary, each one tells much the same story: Over and over again, Lee appeared in municipal court for misdemeanors. And over and over again, the cases were dismissed, or he pleaded guilty and paid a small fine.

In November 1992, Lee committed one of just two crimes that would land him in jail before being fingered as a serial killer. In the Fenwood Hills neighborhood in Zachary, Lee parked a ten-speed bicycle in the front yard of Rob Benge's house and went in -- leaving the kitchen door open.

When Benge returned, Lee walked out of the bedroom and said he was looking for someone named Monroe. He reached out for a handshake. When Lee realized the family was phoning police, he fled the house and was arrested in a nearby Azalea Rest Cemetery.

Although Bert Garraway has represented hundreds of clients in his 33 years as a public defender in East Baton Rouge Parish, Lee stands out in his memory.

"He was so damned likable," said Garraway, who represented Lee in the case. "A lot of the people I'm appointed to represent talk in grunts and hand signals. He was a cut above the average guy. He was pleasant, cooperative, and had above-average intelligence. He showed up for trial in a suit and tie. I kind of liked him, to be quite honest."

Garraway believes the fact that Lee "didn't look like a criminal" might have helped him repeatedly beat the system. Although Lee was found guilty of that crime, the attorney remembers that the jury was hung up for quite some time -- partly because the accused was "so believable."

"I hate to use the word charming, but he really was," recalls jury foreperson Mary Durusau. "He was just someone who was likable. It was the first time I've seen a burglar who tried to make friends with the person whose home he'd just burglarized and try to talk his way out of it."

Jail Time

Out on the street while awaiting trial, however, Lee was growing ever-more violent. Just a few months after that break-in, in January 1993, Lee and Thomas Whitaker Jr. were accused of breaking into the home Melvin Foster. According to a police report, they stole cash and beat the 74-year-old man with a stick.

Two months later, in April, then-15-year-old Michele Chapman and a friend were attacked in a cemetery by a man wielding a cane knife or a machete. Her ankle still bears scars from the attack.

The attacker fled and dropped his weapon in the rain after an officer happened upon the scene. The Zachary Police Department made no progress on the case until after it was the subject of an America's Most Wanted episode. McDavid -- suspecting Lee might have been involved -- contacted Chapman in 1999 and asked her to come in for a photo lineup. She identified Lee as her attacker.

Another year went by before Chapman was told the District Attorney's Office had decided there was not enough evidence to convict him -- particularly because the weapon had been dropped in the rain, washing away any fingerprints. Now she's been told its too late to prosecute the case.

"If they had gotten him way back then, think about how things might be different," Chapman said. "He had all of these Peeping Tom cases, and all he got was a slap on the wrist. It was happening over and over again, and then he started stalking. He's definitely fallen through the cracks."

Lee's activities came to a two-year halt, however, when 19th District Judge Curtis Calloway sentenced Lee to prison in July 1993 in the Fenwood Hills break-in.

The Louisiana Department of Corrections sent him to Lake Charles, where he spent time in Phelps Correctional Center and CINC Inc. -- a three-story state-approved halfway house in an industrial area near the airport. He was released in July 1995 and remained under supervision with the Probation and Parole Office for two years.

After moving into a run-down beige home with carports on both sides in a high-crime area known to locals as "the flower streets," it didn't take Lee long to land back in trouble.

In September 1995, Lee was arrested in a peeping incident during which he also resisted arrest. Although he was on probation at the time and pleaded guilty, he received a suspended sentence and paid a $200 fine on the peeping charge and the resisting arrest charge was dropped. He was also put on unsupervised probation.

That same month, Lee and a neighbor were arrested for stealing clothes and a suitcase from the Salvation Army Thrift Store bin. Again, Lee pleaded guilty, received a suspended sentence and paid a $150 fine. Again, he was put on unsupervised probation.

Lake Charles City Court Judge John S. Hood handled both cases, neither of which he recalled after seeing news reports of Lee's recent arrest.

"What has scared me is that they say he's being investigated for a murder that took place in 1992," said Hood, referring to Connie B. Warner, whose body was found in a ditch near Capitol Lake in August 1992. "That means that when he came through my courtroom, he was possibly a murderer. That's pretty unsettling. But how was I to know?"

Lake Charles Case

Lee is now under investigation in the July 1998 death of 45-year-old Rose Theresa Born, who operated the Paradise Donut and Sweet Shop on 18th Street just a few blocks west of where Lee was caught peeping, Dixon said. The department is awaiting test results from the FBI lab on evidence from the crime.

Officers in the cold-case unit for the Lake Charles Police Department have since discovered that Lee bragged to acquaintances about setting out at a specific time each night for his voyeurism, said Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon. Just in case he was caught, he had concocted a story about his car breaking down.

"The two arrests he had while in Lake Charles certainly would not register on the Richter scale," said Dixon, former FBI senior resident agent who served as an agent for 30 years. "And the system would bog down if every case went to court. The DA is overwhelmed, and the judges are overwhelmed -- they literally have cases pending from years and years ago.

"But we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere sooner or later and not plead down. And crimes of violence should fit into that category."

'Red Flags'

Lee's peeping and violence continued -- a lethal combination that law enforcement veterans contend should have been noted by someone.

"A Peeping Tom should wave some red flags," Dixon said. "It goes along the line of a sexual predator. I pulled his rap sheet, and it appears to me there was clearly a progression."

In April 1998, 28-year-old Randi Mebruer disappeared from her Oak Shadows Subdivision home in Zachary, leaving evidence of a bloody struggle.

A few days after the killing, an employee told Jackson businessman James Odom that his neighbor, Derrick Todd Lee, started talking about the missing woman from Zachary.

"The man never said that Lee had killed this woman, but said, 'I'll never be convicted, because they will never find her body,'" Odom said in a written statement for The Advocate.

Odom, who has lived in East Feliciana Parish for more than 50 years, contacted the Zachary Police Department. "I also told them that I had suspicions that Randi Mebruer was buried under a slab of concrete because at that time I heard that Derrick Todd Lee drove a concrete truck," Odom wrote.

Zachary police say they interviewed Lee two days after the disappearance, but that he asked them to leave.

"Our focus on Derrick Todd Lee has run hot and cold over the years," Watson said. "He was not the only suspect, but it always seemed to come back to him. But there never seemed to be enough probable cause to get a subpoena or to charge him."

Investigators even contacted one of Lee's former employers -- Feliciana Redi-Mix in Zachary -- about the prospect of gathering DNA evidence from the truck he drove or the hard hat he might have worn. But Lee had left that job two months earlier.

The following summer, women living in the St. Francisville Square Apartments started noticing a man hanging around the complex.

On two occasions, he showed up uninvited at the apartment of Colette Walker, and once followed her in the door. On another occasion, he followed her to the Exxon station where she worked. Two other women spotted him hiding in the bushes out front and peeping in windows, according to a police report in the court records.

Walker reported him to the St. Francisville Police Department. Another woman in the office doing community service at the time mentioned that one of her relatives had been a victim in the Zachary cemetery incident, and that Lee was a suspect in that case.

Simmons, the former police chief in St. Francisville, called the Zachary Police Department, and learned that Lee was also a suspect in the Mebruer case. Dannie Mixon, an investigator with the Attorney General's Office, advised Simmons to keep Lee under surveillance.

"I said, 'I'm not going to have a girl go missing from St. Francisville while I'm the police chief when this same guy is a suspect in the case of a missing girl from Zachary," Simmons said. He called his investigator -- Archie Lee, who had Derrick Lee in his sights at that very moment.

Although the Attorney General's Office wanted police simply to tail Lee, Simmons said, the St. Francisville Police Department arrested him on a stalking charge. He received a suspended sentence for the misdemeanor -- even though authorities knew he was a prime suspect in the Mebruer disappearance.

To make the situation worse, Lee slipped through the system in a way that would have ramifications for the subsequent serial killer investigation.

Had a Louisiana State Police DNA program been up and running, Lee's DNA would have been on file and could have been matched in some of the murder cases. But a lack of funding delayed implementation of the Sept. 1, 2000, law for nearly two years, according to the State Police Crime Lab.

"This guy's been watched by every agency," Simmons said. "Every one of us knew this guy was trouble. Did he slip through the system? Absolutely he did. It was shoddy work."

The Attorney General's Office has declined to discuss details of the investigation.

In January 2000, Lee argued with his girlfriend at Liz Lounge in the town of Solitude in West Feliciana Parish. At issue: His advances toward another woman. A cowboy-boot-clad Lee made his argument by kicking and stomping Consandra Green. He fled and ran a law enforcement roadblock before being captured.

He was charged with aggravated battery, attempted first-degree murder, criminal damage to property and aggravated flight from an officer.

All but the aggravated flight charges were dropped, and Lee was sentenced to prison for two years. A judge also revoked his probation on the previous stalking charge and ordered him to serve nine months.

"He tried to run over a deputy with his car," said Randy Holden, chief of uniform patrol for the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office. "He's been in trouble all his life, but the case was plea bargained down by the district attorney. Why, I don't know. But after we make the arrest, it's out of our hands."

Then-District Attorney Charles Shropshire did not return numerous calls to his office and home in Clinton seeking comment for this story.

Former Assistant District Attorney Richard Howell said that most of the cases he saw at that time involved repeat offenders and that Lee was not someone who "fell through the cracks."

"Rap sheets don't tell you anything," Howell said. "The reason there were no convictions could be because the cases were no good."

But current District Attorney Samuel D'Aquilla -- then a Jackson defense attorney who represented Lee -- suggested that Lee should have been dealt with more harshly.

"I'm not going to criticize the prior administration," D'Aquilla said. "Why was he charged so many times and nothing was done? I can't say. Undoubtedly he didn't learn his lesson the few times he did go through the system. Some people deserve a chance and some don't. But when you've been through the system a couple of times and you're still doing the same thing, you need to be put away for a while."

What Might Have Been

Lee was put away for a while -- at Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson -- beginning in April 2000. Sitting in his prison cell in Unit 1, Dorm A, he wrote a request to 20th Judicial District Judge George H. Ware Jr., asking that his sentence for aggravated flight and stalking be shortened.

"I do not want any more life of crime," Lee wrote. "I want to commit myself to good behavior."

It does not appear those words were heartfelt.

Eight months after being released, Lee -- back at work as a truck driver for J.E. Merit -- was again arrested, this time for simple battery in a domestic dispute with his wife. A police report notes he repeatedly "hit her in the head with his fists."

At the time, in September 2001, Louisiana law again required authorities to sample his DNA and enter it into the database of unsolved crimes. But the program -- which later would be used by detectives trying to match DNA recovered from the victims of the south Louisiana serial killer -- still was not up and running.

Meanwhile, Jacqueline Lee dropped the complaint against her husband.

Over the next 2˝ years, Lee allegedly committed even more heinous crimes. During that period, six more women were murdered, and a north Breaux Bridge woman was severely beaten by man who also tried to rape her.

At least two small-town law enforcement agencies familiar with Lee's criminal history -- the Zachary Police Department and the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office -- say they turned over his name as a possible suspect to the Multi-Agency Homicide Task Force.

Said Simmons: "We've been blowing our horns here the whole time about Derrick Lee."

But because the Task Force has declined to discuss the investigation, it remains unclear what might have become of those tips. Task Force spokeswoman Mary Anne Godawa has said Lee's name first surfaced a week ago; she has not addressed claims that he might have been suggested as a suspect before then.

A Chat Over Lunch

What ultimately targeted Lee as a suspect in the serial killings was a bit of serendipity -- and some good old-fashioned police work.

After the Baton Rouge serial murders began to make news, Odom, the Jackson businessman, had suspicions that Lee might be involved, but dismissed them because the task force said it was looking for a white man.

When the group released information in March this year that the serial killer might not be Caucasian, Odom began thinking about Lee again. In late April, he asked his son, Joel Odom -- a detective with the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office -- who was working on the Mebruer case.

The following day, Joel Odom had lunch with attorney general investigator James Piker, who set up a meeting with fellow investigator Dannie Mixon.

Mixon told Odom from the beginning that his primary suspects were Mebruer's husband, Mike Mebruer, and another man. But when Odom told him the same story he had given the Zachary Police Department five years ago, Mixon became more interested.

The following Monday, on May 5, a DNA sample was obtained from Lee. Three weeks went by before the results were in: Lee's DNA was a match to that of the suspect in the serial murders.

"I cannot tell you how I felt," James Odom wrote. "I was so excited, so happy, and then, I realized that this man had been a suspect in my mind for five years. My heart goes out to the families of the victims. I wish we could have gotten this guy a lot sooner."

My comments:

Common denominators, or coincidences (whichever the reader chooses) between the Louisiana cases and some in this area, that I noticed while reading the above articles:

November 24th: Date of my brother's death:

Todd: Name on a hand made, leather wallet that Wild Bill carried when he went out on the prowl.

Lee: One of the main names/words in many of my psychic warnings to police.

Petty crimes and voyeurism: Wild Bill has a history of this too.

Martin: My maiden name: Serious code word in many unsolved cases of murder and arson:

Fulton: My sister's married name ... Patricia Fulton:

Acquaintances emphasize suspects 'nice' character. Very common statement where serial killers are concerned: Also very common statement about Wild Bill .... unless you ask some of the women who really got to know him, that is!

He and his wife filed for bankruptcy: So did Wild Bill and his wife:

I continue to believe that whoever killed Emily Ullman is not the same man who killed most of these other women. In fact, there may be yet another serial killer involved in the Louisiana cases. Perhaps a white man with brown hair!

Never the less, and especially if there isn't another brown haired man involved, I am amazed that as far back as 1998, I tuned in to the duplication theme as well as the correct police officer.

I guess one could say .... "Right cop ....wrong killer!" But then, I wasn't writing to Chief Pennington about the Louisiana killer. I only added those comments in closing. My real reason for writing to Pennington was the New Orleans murder of Emily Christine Ullman. Her case remains unsolved. I continue to feel her killer is not Derrick Todd Lee, but I suppose we will all just have to wait and see how it turns out. Hopefully the police will put some real pressure on this character and try to determine exactly where he was on the night of June 3rd, 1998.

E-Mail Received 3-5-06:

I just visited you website where you wrote about Derrick Todd Lee.

Interestingly enough, your description fits Sean Gillis to a tee.

Owned an old gray van.

Slight build

5 10

Reddish brown hair.

Also, did you know that Sean Gillis admitted to killing at least one victim that Derrick Todd Lee knew. (Lillian Robinson)

The two cases have eerie resemblances that often do not make sense.

Anyway, You were right on.

Jean

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