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Old 05-27-2003, 10:17 AM
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Default La. Serial Killings Suspect Identified

LOUISIANA:


After examining DNA from more than 1,000 people, police issued a murder
warrant Monday for a man described as the prime suspect in the killings of
5 women in south Louisiana, saying his DNA linked him to one of the
deaths.

Derrick Todd Lee, 34, was charged in the warrant with murder and
aggravated rape in the killing of Carrie Yoder, 26, a Louisiana State
University graduate student who became the serial killer's 5th victim in
March.

The FBI also issued a fugitive warrant Monday, and police released a photo
of Lee and asked the public to help locate him.

"He is to be considered armed and dangerous," said Police Chief Pat
Englade, head of the task force investigating the killings.

While the warrant accuses Lee only of Yoder's murder, it says the DNA
evidence removed from Yoder's body matched that taken from the other 4
victims.

Lee's home in St. Francisville, a small town north of Baton Rouge, sat
open and empty on Monday. Records show Lee and his wife filed for
bankruptcy in November 2002, and a court order to allow foreclosure on his
house was signed May 16.

Bankruptcy records listed Lee's occupation as a truck driver.

Jane Lee, who identified herself as Lee's grandmother when contacted by
phone in St. Francisville, said her grandson and his wife have 2 children.
She said she was concerned about the warrant but wouldn't answer further
questions.

The naming of a suspect came nearly a year after police linked the murders
of 3 Baton Rouge women to a single DNA profile, creating a frenzy in the
area as women flocked to self defense classes and bought pepper spray and
handguns.

Police conducted a massive 10-month DNA dragnet for the suspect, taking
cheek scrapings and swabbings from more than 1,000 men. The search led
some men to complain they felt pressured to volunteer their DNA to rid
themselves of suspicion. Defense attorneys have questioned the legality of
the search.

The warrant says a DNA sample was taken from Lee on May 5 but did not say
why or under what circumstances. Police refused to answer questions about
the DNA testing.

2 more victims were connected to the serial killer later, and monthly
rallies to remember the victims often led to accusations the police
weren't using enough outside help.

St. Francisville Police Chief Wendell Fontenot said Lee had "miscellaneous
run-ins over time" with police, but he said he was unable to immediately
give further details.

Newspaper accounts show Lee has a record of arrests on charges of peeping
into homes, stalking, burglary and criminal trespassing. After a fight in
a bar, he was arrested for allegedly running a roadblock and accused of
attempted 1st-degree murder of a policeman, according to The Advocate
newspaper of Baton Rouge.

A reporter walked through Lee's house outside St. Francisville Monday and
found carpets ripped up, siding from the walls torn away, wires exposed,
cabinets open, window shades ripped down and light fixtures torn out.

Sherman Drury, a neighbor, described Lee as "very clean and neatly
dressed" and said he was seldom home but his wife and children stayed
there. Drury said he had not seen Lee in about a week.

The DNA match to Lee, a black man, conflicts with descriptions in an FBI
profile released months ago that said the killer likely was white. Police
said after Yoder's murder that the killer could be of any race.

Yoder, from Tampa, Fla., was severely beaten, raped and strangled.

The other victims were Gina Wilson Green, 41; Charlotte Murray Pace, 22;
Pam Kinamore, 44, all of Baton Rouge; and Trineisha Dene Colomb, 23, of
Lafayette.

Ann Pace, mother of the killer's second victim, said she was "overwhelmed
and nauseated" when she heard a suspect was named in the case.

"You have to be glad because it seems inevitable, I hope, that they will
catch him. That means no one else will die, and that's all that matters,"
Pace said.

"Of course, I wish it had happened sooner," she added.

Ed White, Kinamore's brother-in-law, said his family wouldn't be "totally
elated" until Lee was captured, and warned women not to let down their
guard. "We need the public's help in apprehending him because he's on the
run," White said.

On Friday, investigators released a sketch of a possible suspect, a man
who tried to rape 1 woman and approached 2 others last year.

The photo of Lee bears a similarity to the sketch, but police said Monday
they had not connected Lee to those encounters, which occurred in June and
July 2002 in St. Martin Parish.

Those 3 women were not killed and officials said no conclusive evidence
links that man to the serial killer.

(source: Associated Press)
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