Monday, May 16, 2011
Now, here’s one you probably haven’t heard about. In the realm of serial killers in the news, the Long Island serial killer(s) have seemed to throttle their way to the top of the line in terms of publicity. But, as we know, serial killers are working their way through the United States at any given time. The numbers vary, but 50-80 is a fairly safe bet. Granted, media organizations couldn’t possibly feature all of these, otherwise news of Osama Bin Laden’s death would have been pushed to the back of the blogosphere. Regardless, the serial killer that is terrorizing the small community of Jennings, Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana definitely deserves some attention. The JD Killer (I coined that phrase just now; we’ll see if it sticks), has been preying on young women since May, 2005. And, to date, there are eight victims.
Jefferson Davis Parish is an economically depressed area with an estimated 11,000 people. The victims, like in Long Island, were involved in a lifestyle of drug use, prostitution, and ran in the same social circles. In fact, two of the victims, Kristen Elizabeth Gary Lopez, 21, and Brittney Gary, 17, were cousins. Lopez’s remains were found March 18, 2001 (12 days after her disappearance), and Gary didn’t meet the same fate until over a year and half later when her remains were discovered in the grass off of a dirt road on November 15, 2008 (13 days after she first disappeared). In the circumstances surrounding all eight victims, the killer made little attempt to conceal the bodies; instead relying on environmental and animal conditions (for example, alligators) to do the work for him. Some of the victims had their throats slit, others were strangled, some were partially clothed, some were nude, and some were almost completely decomposed.
Here is a list of all eight victims:
May 17, 2005 - Loretta Lynn Chaisson, 28, is last seen. Her body is found in the Grand Marais drainage canal three miles west of state Highway 26, just off La. 1126 three days later. No official cause of death is ever determined, but high levels of alcohol and drugs were found in her body.
June 18, 2005 - The body of Ernestine Marie Daniel Patterson, 29, is found in a canal off La. 102, just six miles away from the location of Chaisson's body. Her death is later ruled as a homicide by a slit throat.
March 6, 2007 - Kristen Elizabeth Gary Lopez, 21, goes missing. Twelve days later her body is found in the Petitjean Canal, ten miles south of Welsh. No official cause of death is determined, but high levels of alcohol and drugs were found in her body.
May 12, 2007 - The body of Whitnei Charlene Dubois, 26, is found just south of Jennings in the same vicinity as the other victims, but on a rural road instead of a canal. The cause of her death was never determined, but high levels of alcohol and drugs were found in her body.
May 27, 2008 - LaConia Shontel "Muggy" Brown, 23, is last seen by her grandmother, hours before her body was found in the middle of East Racca Road near a police shooting range on the edge of Jennings' city limits. She was doused with bleach. Her death is ruled as a homicide by slit throat.
September 11, 2008 - The body of Crystal Shay Benoit Zeno, 24, is found in a dry canal a couple miles southeast of Jennings, but because of the advanced state of decomposition, it took nearly two months to identify her. Her death is ruled a homicide but how she was murdered has not been made public.
November 2, 2008 - Brittney Gary, 17, disappears after walking to a nearby Family Dollar Store to purchase minutes for her cell phone. Gary is known to have done drugs and knew several of the other victims, including her cousin Lopez and best friend Brown. Saturday, November 15, 2008, a family search party finds a Gary in the grass off Keystone Road, a half-mile south of La. 1126 and about four miles south of Roanoke. Her death is ruled as homicide but how she was murdered has not been made public.
August 16, 2009 – Necole Guillory, 27, is believed to be missing. On August 19th JDP law enforcement is notified, at 1:30 pm, about the situation with Necole. By 2:00 pm, the task force is interviewing the person who reported Necole missing. At 2:30 pm, Acadia parish officials are notified that workers weed eating grass on an I-10 embankment had just discovered a dead female. The victim was positively identified on August 20, 2009.
Strangely enough, Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff Ricky Edwards won’t come out and use the term serial killer in the homicides of the eight women. Why? I’ll save the legal mumbo jumbo and resort to Wikipedia to give the general definition of a serial killer:
"…an individual who has murdered three or more people over a period of more than a month, with down time (a "cooling off period") between the murders, and whose motivation for killing is largely based on psychological gratification. Other sources define the term as "a series of two or more murders, committed as separate events, usually, but not always, by one offender acting alone" or, including the vital characteristics, a minimum of at least two murders. Often, a sexual element is involved with the killings, but the FBI states that motives for serial murder include "anger, thrill, financial gain, and attention seeking." The murders may have been attempted or completed in a similar fashion and the victims may have had something in common; for example, occupation, race, appearance, sex, or age group."
All of the women were in their late teens and 20’s, socialized within the same groups, their remains were located in rural areas, and their manner of deaths coincided with one another over a four year period. Sure sounds like a serial killer to me. I highly doubt that in a town that small, eight different people got angry with each of these women and unknowingly murdered and dumped them alike. It just doesn’t happen. I’ve read some media reports that are speculating that Sheriff Edwards is avoiding this term to avoid causing the killer “jubilation and media attention.” I say, “Jubilate and give more attention to the killer than he can stand.” This is where they start to make their mistakes. And, as quickly as you gave the killer attention—cut it off. It will drive him nuts. In fact, Sheriff, he might even write you a letter, or contact the media. No guarantees, but it’s possible. Hiding it and sugar-coating the case clearly isn’t working, and it’s long past time for a new strategy.
There was a strange twist to the case that piqued my interest a little. In December 2007, veteran Jennings Police Department Sgt. Jesse Ewing was arrested by the Louisiana State Police Department for obstruction of justice and malfeasance in office. Ewing was accused of interviewing two female inmates, who asked for him specifically and provided crucial information in the case, and failing to turn the information over to the investigating authorities. He turned the information over to private investigator Kirk Menard instead. Menard was hired by the victims’ families and contends that the reason Ewing gave the information to him was because it contained reference to a high ranking official, and Ewing was hesitant to even give the information to his chief of police. This caused many to speculate that the killer may currently, or has been, involved in the local law enforcement community.
There’s definitely more than meets the eye in the case of the Jefferson Davis Parish serial killer. The victims undoubtedly knew their killer or killers, and acquaintances of the victims most likely know who he is too. Unfortunately, if things don’t progress in this case, they may fall victim themselves before they put two and two together.
Stacy Dittrich will be discussing the case of the Jefferson Davis Parish serial killer on the debut of the new BlogTalk radio show, “Behind the Yellow Tape,” Friday, May 27th at 11 p.m. EST at www.blogtalkradio.com/behindtheyellowtape with host Joey Ortega.Tweet