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20070119: Alleged rapist and serial killer in court LA Houma Serial Killer News
A 42-year-old man has appeared in court in Louisiana charged with nine counts of first degree murder.

Ronald Dominique pleaded not guilty to the charges, which relate to the rape and murder of nine men in Terrebonne County between 2002 and 2005.

The accused was arrested by police at a homeless shelter last month.

During his interrogation he allegedly confessed to the murders of 23 men.

Many of his victims were transients and some of them were gay.

They offered money by Dominique for sex. He would also claim to be married and offer his non-existent wife for sex in order to lure heterosexual men.

Bodies linked to Dominique have been found in six Louisiana parishes, and he has been implicated in the murder of two men in New Orleans.

In court, the some family members of the dead men were present.

The defendant was wheeled into court, and is reported to suffer from a heart condition.

One of those in court to observe proceedings was the mother of one of the murder and rape victims, Angela Smith.

"I wish I could have talked to him. I want to ask him 'Before you killed my child, what were his last words?'" Smith said, according to DallasVoice.com

"I couldn’t even see him. That’s how bad a shape he was in when they sent him back to me," she said of her son Wayne.
 

20070118: Serial killer suspect pleads not guilty LA Houma Serial Killer News
A suspect in the murders of 23 south Louisiana men pleaded not guilty Tuesday, Jan. 16, to nine counts of first-degree murder.

Ronald Dominique was rolled into the courtroom in a wheelchair. He mumbled “not guilty” to each count as his sister and other relatives looked on — along with family members of some of his alleged victims.

The nine charges, which carry a possible death sentence, stem from the rape and murders of nine men between 2002 and 2005 in Terrebonne Parish, La.
Dominique, 42, has confessed to 23 murders of men from 1997 to 2005, authorities said. Victims were found in ditches, sugar cane fields and other remote locations in southeastern Louisiana.

Among the onlookers in the courtroom Tuesday was Angela Smith, mother of victim Wayne Smith.

“I wish I could have talked to him. I want to ask him ‘Before you killed my child, what were his last words?’” Smith said.

“I couldn’t even see him. That’s how bad a shape he was in when they sent him back to me,” Smith said of her son. “I just buried a box.”

Dominique, who has a heart condition, was arrested at a homeless shelter in December. Initially booked with two murders, he eventually was indicted on nine and, during interrogation, confessed to 23, authorities have said.

Authorities have said he allegedly enticed victims with offers of money for gay sex, or in some cases by offering his “wife” for heterosexual encounters and showing the men a picture of a woman. Dominique is not married.

In addition to the nine charges in Terrebonne, Dominique also has been arrested in connection with two bodies found in the New Orleans suburb of Jefferson Parish. However, it is uncertain when or if he will be prosecuted there.

Earlier this month, a prosecutor said there is too little evidence in Jefferson Parish to hold Dominique for those crimes.

Although Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee has said DNA evidence linked Dominique to both bodies, Dominique has said he killed them in New Orleans and dumped the bodies in Jefferson Parish, according to Capt. James Gallagher, a Kenner Police Department spokesman.

On Jan. 8, a prosecutor told a judge there was no probable cause to hold Dominique in those killings, but charges in Jefferson Parish are possible in other cases, which he did not identify.

Bodies believed connected to Dominique were found in Jefferson, St. Charles, Terrebonne, Lafourche, Iberville and Assumption parishes.

Terrebonne District Attorney Joe Waitz said he is trying to schedule meetings with prosecutors in other districts to discuss how to proceed with other possible cases.
 

20070117: Accused Serial Killer Pleads Not Guilty LA Houma Serial Killer News

Houma -- Ronald Dominique appeared in a Houma courtroom Tuesday to plead to not guilty during his arraignment for 9 counts of first degree murder in Terrebonne Parish.

Dominique was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair and "mumbled" the "not guilty" plea in the court.

Dominique has allegedly confessed to killing as many as 23 men in the South Louisiana area whose bodies were found in the parishes of Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson, St. Charles, Assumption, and Iberville Parish.

Earlier this month prosecutors in Jefferson Parish dropped the charges of 2 counts of murder on Dominique of 2 Jefferson men after Dominique confessed to killing the 2 men in Orleans Parish.

Dominique was arrested December 1, 2006 for the murder of those 2 Jefferson men. Days after interrogation Ronald Dominique was charged with 9 counts of first degree murder in Terrebonne Parish.

 

 

20070109: Prosecutor: alleged serial killer didn't kill in Jefferson LA Gretna Serial Killer News
There's too little evidence in Jefferson Parish to hold a man who claims he killed 23 men during trysts in southeastern Louisiana, including two New Orleans men whose bodies were found in Metairie and Kenner, a prosecutor says. Although Sheriff Harry Lee has said DNA evidence linked Ronald Dominique to both bodies, Dominique has said he killed them in New Orleans and dumped the bodies in Jefferson Parish, according to Capt. James Gallagher, a Kenner Police Department spokesman. On Monday, Assistant District Attorney Paul Schneider told State District Judge Martha Sassone there was no probable cause to hold Dominique in those killings, but charges in Jefferson Parish are possible in other cases, which he did not identify. Confined to a wheelchair, Dominique, 42, of the Houma area, was in the courtroom for the hearing about the deaths of Manuel Reed, 20, whose body was found in a garbage bin in Kenner in 1999, and Oliver "Boe" LeBanks, 27, whose corpse was found in 1998 in Metairie. Dominique was arrested at a police-run homeless shelter in Houma on Dec. 1 on warrants from Jefferson Parish, but still faces nine counts of first-degree murder in Terrebonne Parish. New Orleans police learned of the development last week and have not yet interviewed Dominique, spokeswoman Bambi Hall said Monday. Defense attorneys had contended in court papers filed last month that authorities had no evidence to hold Dominique on murder charges. After Dominique's arrest last month for Reed's and LeBanks' deaths, police said he confessed to strangling or otherwise asphyxiating 23 men between 1997 and 2005. The victims were described as homeless men between the ages of 16 and 46 who were bound during sexual encounters. Bodies believed connected to Dominique were found in Jefferson, St. Charles, Terrebonne, Lafourche, Iberville and Assumption parishes. He was booked in Kenner with first-degree murder and aggravated rape in Reed's death and with second-degree murder in LeBanks' killing.
 

20061227: Police Might Have Stopped Serial Killer LA New Orleans Serial Killer News
Police twice had a chance to arrest a Louisiana man, who claims he killed 23 men, before he began his 10-year killing spree, according to news reports. Accused serial killer Ronald J. Dominique was twice reported for rape and arrested once in 1996, but he never went to trial. Dominique (pictured in mug shot) has been indicted on nine counts of first-degree murder and he claims to have killed 23 men in the New Orleans and Thibodaux areas of Louisiana between 1997 and 2006. In 1993, a man told police that Dominique tied him up and raped him at gunpoint, but no arrest was ever made by the officer investigating the case. In 1996, another man told the same police officer a similar story. Dominique was arrested and jailed in the 1997 case, but was released three months later. He admitted to investigators that he had sex with the men, but said he tied them up because they asked him to do so. He also said he only pulled out his gun when the men demanded money. 1996 Charges Dropped Dominique with aggravated rape and arrested in August 1996. The charge was later downgraded to forcible rape. The charges eventually were dropped and he was released in November. Prosecutors said they dropped the charges because the victim disappeared, but the Daily Comet and the Courier newspapers said the victim claims they never tried to contact him. On July 14, 1997, the body of the first of Dominique's alleged murder victims was found. During the next 10 years, the bodies of 22 other men were found scattered throughout southern Louisiana. Killed 23 Men to Avoid Prison Ronald J. Dominique of Houma, LA has confessed to murdering 23 men over the past nine years and dumping their bodies in sugarcane fields, ditches and small bayous in six southeast Louisiana parishes. His reason for killing? He did not want to return to jail after raping the men. The First Victims In 1997, authorities found 19-year-old David Levron Mitchell's murdered body near Hahnville. The body of 20-year-old Gary Pierre was found in St. Charles Parish six months later. In July 1998, the body of 38-year-old Larry Ranson was found in St. Charles Parish. Over the next nine years, more bodies of men ranging in age from 19 to 40 would be found dumped in sugarcane fields, desolate bayous and in ditches in remote areas. Similarities in 23 of the murders lead investigators to suspecting the men were victims of a serial killer. The Task Force A task force made up of nine south Louisiana parish sheriff's offices, the Louisiana State Police and the FBI, was formed in March 2005, to investigate the murders. nvestigators knew the 23 victims were mostly homeless men, many who led high-risk lifestyles, which included drug use and prostitution. The victims had been asphyxiated or strangled, some raped and several were barefooted. The Arrest After receiving a tip, authorities armed with forensic evidence, arrested Ronald Dominique, 42, and charged him with the murder and rape of 19-year-old Manuel Reed and 27-year-old Oliver Lebanks. Just days before his arrest, Dominique had moved from his sister's home into the Bunkhouse shelter in Houma, LA. Residents of the home described Dominique as odd, but no one suspected he was a killer. Dominique Confesses to 23 Murders Soon after his arrest, Dominique confessed to murdering 23 southeast Louisiana men. His tactics in capturing, sometimes raping then murdering the men was simple. He would lure homeless men with the promise of sex in exchange for money. Sometimes he would tell the men he wanted to pay them to have sex with his wife, and then show a picture of an attractive woman. Dominique was not married. Dominique then lead the men to his home, asked to tie them up, then raped and eventually murdered the men to avoid arrest. In his statement to the police, Dominique said the men who refused to be tied up would leave his home unharmed. Such was the case with one unnamed man who a year ago, reported the incident to the task force, a tip that eventually led to Dominique's arrest. Who Is Ronald Dominique? Ronald Dominique spent much of his youth in the small bayou community of Thibodaux, LA. Thibodaux sits between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and is the type of community where everyone knows a little about each other. He attended Thibodaux High School where he was in the glee club and sang in the chorus. Classmates who remember Dominique say he was ridiculed about being homosexual during his teen years, but at the time he never admitted he was gay. As he got older he seemed to live in two worlds. There was the Dominique who was helpful to his neighbors in the small trailer parks where he lived. Then there was the Dominique who cross-dressed and did bad impersonations of Patti LaBelle at the local gay club. Neither world embrace him and among the gay community, many remember him as someone who was not particularly well liked. Through most of his adulthood, Dominique struggled financially and would end up living with his mother or other relatives. In the weeks before his arrest, he was living with his sister in a singlewide trailer. He was suffering from declining health, having been hospitalized for a severe heart condition and forced to use a cane to walk. Outwardly, there was side to Dominique who enjoyed helping people. He joined the Lions Club just months before his arrest, and spent Sunday afternoons calling out Bingo numbers to senior citizens. The membership director said he was well liked by everyone he had met through the Lions Club. Maybe Dominique had finally found a place he felt accepted. What sparked Dominique to move from the comfort of his sister's home to the dismal surroundings of a shelter for the homeless is uncertain. Some suspect the family grew uncomfortable by the 24-hour police surveillance and Dominique, knowing he was soon to be caught, moved away to avoid getting his family involved in his arrest. A Criminal History Dominique's past arrests include forcible rape, disturbing the peace and telephone harassment. * Feb. 10, 2002 - Arrested in Terribonne Parish after he allegedly slapped a woman during a Mardi Gras parade. According to the reports, Dominique accused a woman of hitting a baby stroller in a parking lot. The woman apologized, but Dominique continued to verbally assault her and then slapped her across the face. He was arrested but entered a parish offender's program instead of standing trial. Reports show he met all his conditions in the program in October 2002. * May 19, 2000 - He received a summons to appear in court on disturbing the peace charges. Since it was a misdemeanor, he was able to plead guilty and pay a fine to avoid appearing in court. * Aug. 25, 1996 - Dominique was arrested on forcible rape charges and booked on a $100,000 bond. According to neighbors, a partially dressed young man escaped from the window of Dominique's home in Thibodaux, screaming that he had tried to kill him. When the case was brought to court, the victim could not be found to testify. In November 1996, the judge continued the case indefinitely. * May 15, 1994 - Arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and speeding. * June 12, 1985 - Arrested and charged with telephone harassment. He pleaded guilty, paid a $74 fine and court costs. Three days after Dominique's arrest for killing Mitchell and Pierre, investigators said Dominique confessed to 21 other murders, giving details only the killer would know. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty when Dominique goes to trial. Many wonder, with his current health issues, if he'll live long enough to go to trial.
 

20061211: Victim of serial killer family speaks out LA Houma Serial Killer News

Family members of a man believed to be the victim of the highway 90 serial killer are speaking out. David D'aquin has been investigating this story and says they want their day in court.

We caught up with Darline Thompson who's daughter saw Ronald Dominique, the suspected serial killer, the day her brother turned up missing.

"When she seen him on the news last night, she jumped and said that's him. She still remembered."

In 1999, police found Mitchell Johnson in a ditch in Kenner. He was so badly decomposed family members weren't allowed to see him. Darline's brother, Mitchell, was cremated.

"And I said I would never get rid of his ashes until we find the killer. He made it with me through the hurricane. I went back and got him out the house. It was the only thing left in the house was my brother. Everything else was gone.

This box of ashes and a picture are the only things Darline has to remember her brother, Mitchell, a father of two.

"He was a good person. He worked since he was 15. He wasn't homeless, and he was not no prostitute."

Mitchell did have a cocaine problem, something Darline says he was working to overcome.

Even though Ronald Dominique has admitted killing Mitchell Johnson, there's no closure for Darline. She says it'll take a while.

"when they do him justice for what he did to my brother, because he didn't ask for that and I know just reading and hearing what he did to him and what he was thinking when he was strangling him and raping him."

Darline believes her brother Mitchell was drugged before he was strangled and raped because he showed no signs of a struggle.

No word at this point when Dominique will face charges for Mitchell Johnson's murder.

 

20061208: Gay-Sex Serial Killer Could Face More Charges LA Houma Serial Killer News
A man who confessed to murdering 23 men during an eight-year killing spree is being looked in the unsolved deaths of a number of other men in Louisiana.

Ronald J. Dominique, 42, is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and one for second-degree murder. (story) The other 12 murders remain under investigation.

Authorities said Dominique said he had sex with each of the victims before killing them. All of the victims were homeless.

Dominique, who is indigent, has not yet been appointed a lawyer and did not have one present during questioning. Sheriff's officials say the confession is solid and that Dominique supplied details that hadn't been released and that only the killer and investigators would know.

Now police have begun looking at other cold case files.

One is the 1992 murder of an Episcopal priest in Thibodaux. 

There are a number of differences between the killings to which Dominique has confessed and the slaying of  Rev. Hunter Horgan III.  For one Horgan was not a homeless person.

But one thing stands out for investigators. 

At the time of Horgan's murder Dominique, who was born and raised in Thibodaux,  was working at a florist shop just yards from where the Horgan's body was found in the church’s parish hall.

Police in other communities across he state where Dominique is known to have lived or visited are combing through old files to see if there is any connection to other unsolved killings.

Dominique will be arraigned in the 11 murders for which he has been charged on Jan. 16. He is being held on  $8 million bond.

 

20061207: Alleged gay serial killer arrested LA Houma Serial Killer News

Louisiana man confesses to raping, killing as many as 23 men over last 10 years; confession stuns community

A gay Louisiana man’s confession this week that he raped and killed at least 23 men over a 10-year period has left the LGBT community in the state’s bayou land stunned and concerned about public reaction.

Police arrested Ronald Joseph Dominique, 42, of Blue Bayou, on Dec. 1, on charges he murdered two men in Jefferson Parish in 1998 and 1999. In subsequent interrogations Dominique confessed to those murders and 21 others, including nine in Terrebonne Parish alone.

A task force has been investigating the string of unsolved murders that began in 1997. The victim’s bodies — left in various stages of undress — have been found in the parishes of Terrebonne, Lafourche and Iberville and in suburban New Orleans.

Most of the victims were asphyxiated.

Wayne Beasley, who met Dominique in a Houma gay bar in 1998 and occasionally played pool with the confessed serial killer, said members of southeast Louisiana’s gay community are spooked by the realization that someone they knew could have committed such horrific crimes.

“It gives you the sensation of ewww,” said Beasley, who was a 23-year-old oil field worker and had just come out when he met Dominique. “I guess that’s the best way to describe it. Like, I can’t believe I was shooting pool next to someone who turned out to be a serial killer.”

Beasley said the sensation is intensified by the recollection that Dominique seemed to be coming on to him. His disinterest in leaving the bar with the confessed killer may have saved his life, he said.

At the time Beasley met Dominique, the killings had already begun.

In the wake of the recent media coverage, all of Houma’s gay community — which is described as cohesive but not visible — is struggling to come to grips with the revelation they socialized with a serial killer, Beasley said.

“I talked with a friend of mine, and he put it the best I have heard it,” Beasley said. “It’s a black eye for the gay community. I’ve talked to several people who have met him and know him. That pretty much sums it up — a black eye.”

The owner of the Drama Club, the gay bar Dominique frequented when it was known as Kixx, said he could not recall meeting the confessed killer, but he remembers one of the victims.

“It’s eerie,” said Randy Chesnut, who is a former Lafayette Police Department detective. “It’s hard to believe. This is the sort of thing you think of happening in New Orleans or Dallas, but not here.”

Chesnut said when police officers showed him pictures of the victims, he recognized one of them as someone who had recently visited the bar. He suspected the young man was a hustler, the bar owner said.

Police identified the young man as 21-year-old Christopher Sutter-field, who was found dead in Iberville Parish about two months ago.

Chesnut said many of his customers remember Dominique, but he was not well liked.

Although his customers were aware of the investigation of the murders before Dominique’s arrest, most felt little concern about their safety because they felt they did not match the profile of the victims, he said.

“I never heard anyone say they were worried about becoming a victim,” Chesnut said.

Dominique has confessed to targeting men who were alone and walking or riding a bicycle. He apparently approached men he thought would be willing to engage in sexual activity in exchange for money.

“They tended to be people who lived on the fringe,” Chesnut said. “They were the kind who were willing to do anything for a dollar.”

Law enforcement investigators said Dominique told them he picked up men with the intention of raping them after he tied them up. He killed them to prevent them from pressing charges against him, the officers said.

Dominique, who has never been married, told investigators that if the men appeared to be straight, he would show them a picture of a woman he claimed was his wife. He allegedly told the men he was looking for a sex partner for his wife.

According to the investigators, once Dominique took the victims home, he asked for permission to tie them up. If the victims refused, he let them go — but if they agreed, they were raped and murdered, the investigators said.

He allegedly disposed of the bodies in remote areas he learned about working in jobs such as delivering pizza and reading utility meters.

Dominique told investigators he made the decision to kill his victims after raping them because he spent three months in jail in 1996 after he was accused of rape by a man in Thibodaux. The victim disappeared while Dominique was in jail, and prosecutors dropped the charges because he was not available to testify in the trial.

The people who knew Dominique are having difficulty reconciling what they are reading in the newspaper and hearing on television with the individual they encountered in Houma’s gay bar, Beasley said. Although no one liked him much, Dominique seemed harmless, he said.

“He and I got along pretty well,” Beasley said. “To me, he seemed like an ok guy, but you could tell he was a little off. You could tell that there was definitely something different about him.”

“From what I gather, he was kind of an outcast. He wasn’t popular in the gay community.”

Beasley said Dominique drank little and apparently was not a drug user.

Chesnut said he has heard people in the gay community referred to Dominique as “Miss Moped” because he won one of the vehicles in a contest at a McDonald’s and used it for transportation.

“I think he was teased a lot,” Chesnut said.

Beasley said he last saw Dominique in about 1999.

“I only knew him in the bar,” Beasley said. “He was going to the bar, and then all of a sudden he didn’t go out at all.”

Dominique had been living in a camper in Bayou Blue on property owned by his mother and sister.

He checked into a homeless center in Houma two days before his arrest, apparently because he became aware of police officers’ observation of him.

Investigators said a man who refused to let Dominique tie him up had mentioned the incident to his parole officer. The man could not remember the address, but he led investigators to where Dominique lived. Investigators put Dominique’s face in a line-up, and the witness picked him out.

Investigators said a DNA swab Dominique allowed them to take matched the two cases for which he was originally charged.

Dominique is charged with multiple cases of aggravated rape and first-degree murder. A Terrebonne Parish judge has set bail at $1 million for each case in which he has been charged in that parish, for a total of $8 million. Charges in other parishes are pending.

Prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty.

The concern that a serial killer was responsible for the deaths of the men was first raised by law enforcement officers in 2005.

 

20061206: Sheriff: Man arrested in serial-killer investigation cooperating LA Houma Serial Killer News

A man arrested in the investigation of the possible serial killings of at least 22 people has been cooperating with investigators, a sheriff said on Saturday.

Forensic evidence led authorities to Ronald J. Dominique, 42, who was arrested Friday at a homeless shelter in this Cajun city about 60 miles west of New Orleans.Dominique was booked on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated rape in the May 1999 strangling death of Manuel Reed, 20, and with second-degree murder in the October 1998 death of Oliver Lebanks, 27.Both men were killed in Jefferson Parish, in suburban New Orleans about 45 miles east of Houma, according to the attorney general's office.Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry J. Larpenter said Dominique was working with investigators, but the sheriff would not provide details about what he had told authorities. Larpenter said more information would be released at a Monday news conference.Kenner police said last year that they believed Reed's death was linked to the killings of two other males in the area, Joseph Brown, 16, and Angel Mejia, 21.On Friday, authorities would not say whether Dominique was connected to other slayings in the area but said more charges were possible. A task force has been investigating the deaths of 22 men who were killed in similar ways dating to the late 1990s.Many of the men were poor; some were willing to prostitute themselves for drugs. They had been strangled without the bruises or broken bones that would indicate a struggle."Due to the fact that the investigation is ongoing and there is a possibility of more charges, no further information is available at this time," according to a statement from the attorney general's office.Until Friday, many authorities _ including Attorney General Charles Foti _ shied away from saying southeastern Louisiana had its third serial killer investigation in a matter of years.
 

20061205: Prosecutors To Seek Death Penalty Against Confessed Serial Killer LA Houma Serial Killer News
Authorities in Louisiana say they will seek the death penalty against a man who has confessed to killing 23 men over an eight-year period.

Forty-two-year-old Ronald Dominique says he had sex with the men, then strangled or suffocated them and dumped their bodies.

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He faces 11 murder charges.

Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said Dominique confessed to killing the men, all between the ages of 16 and 46, between 1997 and 2005.

Larpenter says Dominique "stated how, when and where they were killed."

The victims' bodies were found in seven different south Louisiana parishes.

All were found bound and had been killed in similar fashion, leading investigators to suspect the work of a serial killer.

 

20061202: Serial killer suspect arrested LA Houma Serial Killer News

He could be linked to 2 dozen slayings

A statewide investigation into nearly two dozen slayings of men, most around the southeastern Louisiana town of Houma and in neighboring parishes, led police to arrest a suspect Friday who they think is a serial killer, booking him in the deaths of two men from New Orleans.

Houma police arrested Ronald J. Dominique, 42, on Friday at a homeless shelter run by the Police Department and accused him of leaving two dead bodies in Jefferson Parish in the late 1990s.

Dominique was booked with first-degree murder and aggravated rape in the death of Manuel Reed, 20, whose body was found in a garbage bin May 30, 1999, at 2433 Bainbridge St. in Kenner. He was also booked with second-degree murder in the death of Oliver "Boe" LeBanks, 27, found Oct. 5, 1998, in the 6900 block of Stable Drive in Metairie.

Both men were from New Orleans, and they are the only two victims police have officially linked to Dominique, who gave a street address of 2215 Bayou Blue Road, located just outside Houma.

Attorney General Charles Foti's office said the arrest came after authorities kept Dominique under "24-hour surveillance," and it marks the first time investigators have definitively called the string of deaths the work of a serial killer.

A task force staffed by a number of sheriffs, the FBI and State Police formed in March 2005 to begin extensive investigations into at least 22 killings of men between the ages of 18 and 40 that took place between 1997 and 2006, Foti said. The team discovered "scientific forensic evidence" that led to Dominique.

"There are three altogether in our jurisdiction," said Col. John Fortunato, spokesman for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office. "We're looking at the possibility of his being involved with one on Labarre Road" and a separate body found on Stable Drive.

Sheriff Harry Lee has opened up his crime lab to the task force, Fortunato said.

For years, law enforcement agencies in southeastern Louisiana, including those in Kenner and the parishes of Jefferson, St. Charles, Lafourche, Terrebonne and Iberville, have investigated the murders of men who were strangled or suffocated and whose bodies were dumped in remote spots.

In Kenner, police called their unsolved lot of possible victims the work of "the shoeless killer," a reference to the bodies turning up in various stages of undress.

Houma Police Chief Pat Boudreaux first suggested the possibility of a serial killer in an April 2005 interview with the Houma Courier. Boudreaux and other authorities have said the victims tended to lead "high-risk lifestyles," such as illicit drug use and prostitution.

Three weeks after Reed's body turned up in Kenner, police there found Angel Mejia, 21, of Boutte strangled like Reed, next to a garbage bin in the 2600 block of Delaware Avenue. The two had been friends, police said. Joseph Brown, 16, of Boutte was found suffocated at the western end of Veterans Memorial Boulevard in October 1999. Brian Williams, 18, of New Orleans was found in a ditch along the 900 block of Labarre Road in Metairie on Nov. 27, 1999. He had also been suffocated.

Police said all three victims were young, dark-skinned men asphyxiated elsewhere and dumped in secluded areas abutting the airport -- and all were missing their shoes.

 

 

 

20061201: Serial Killer Suspect Arrested LA Houma Serial Killer News

Police say they have caught the man responsible for murdering nearly two dozen men.

Suspected serial killer, Ronald J. Dominique, a 42-year-old resident of Terrebonne Parish, was arrested Friday at a homeless shelter.

Dominique is believed to have strangled 21 men in southeast Louisiana between 1997 and 2004.

Most of the victims, men between the ages of 18 and 40, were found dumped in Jefferson, St. Charles, Lafourche, Terrebonne, Assumption and Iberville parishes.

 

20061201: La. man arrested in serial-killer investigation LA Houma Serial Killer News

Task force has been looking into as many as 21 deaths dating back to 1997

A multi-agency task force investigating as many as 21 stranglings arrested a 42-year-old Houma man on Friday and booked him in connection with two of the earliest ones.

Ronald J. Dominique is accused of killing Oliver Lebanks in 1998 and Manual Reed in 1999, and with raping Reed, state Attorney General Charles Foti's office announced.

Both men's bodies were found in suburban New Orleans, about 60 miles east of Houma. Reed's was found in Kenner and Lebanks' in Metairie. Reed was 20, LeBanks 27.

Dominique was accused of first-degree murder and aggravated rape in Reed's death, and with second-degree murder of Lebanks.

"Due to the fact that the investigation is ongoing and there is a possibility of more charges, no further information is available at this time," the news release said.

According to The Courier of Houma, Dominique was picked up at a homeless shelter run by the police department about 3 p.m. and taken to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office for questioning.

The task force had been investigating the deaths of men, mostly between the ages of 18 and 40, for more than a year. The first killing was in 1997.

None of the usual signs of struggle
Many of the victims were poor; some were willing to prostitute themselves for drugs. The victims had been strangled, but none had the bruises or broken bones that would indicate a struggle.

Houma Police Chief Patrick Boudreaux was one of the first to investigate them as serial killings. The killings weren't like the usual drug killing, with a victim shot and left to die.

Three victims were found in the same sugar cane field. Some were missing their shoes.

Until Friday, many authorities — including Foti — shied away from saying southeastern Louisiana had its third serial killer investigation in a matter of years.

There had been no DNA evidence, like that which led to the conviction of Derrick Todd Lee and the arrest and reported confessions of Sean Vincent Gillis in the two earlier cases.

Nine of the unsolved cases were from the late 1990s. The others, since 2000, included many victims with ties to the Houma area.

‘High-risk’ lifestyles
Because most of the victims led what authorities termed "high-risk" lifestyles, the killings caused less public unrest than those of the college and professional women whom Lee was accused of killing between April 1998 and March 2003. He was sentenced to death for first-degree murder of a former Louisiana State University student in Baton Rouge, and sentenced to life for second-degree murder of a West Baton Rouge woman in 2002.

Authorities said DNA had linked him to the deaths of five other women.

Prosecutors have said that Gillis confessed to killing eight women. He has been booked in seven of the cases, and charged with first-degree murder of one, Donna Bennett Johnston. Her body was found by a roadside on Feb. 27, 2004. Gillis was arrested about two months later. Authorities have said DNA and tire tracks linked him to the crime.

 

20060227: South Louisiana Highway Serial Killer LA Houma Serial Killer News

Sixteen murders along a lonely strip of highway and a pattern emerges. New details on what might be South Louisiana's latest serial killer. We have new information tonight on a story we first brought you in a special report last week. We told you about a special task force that's been set up by the Attorney General's office to catch what they believe is a serial killer who's targeting gay and bisexual men.

KATC's David D'Aquin has been investigating this story. We now have names and some of the pictures of suspected serial killer victims from South Louisiana. The killings have been going on since 1997 and the most recent connected murder victim was found on April 27th of last year.

So far, through published reports and our own investigation, we've been able to identify sixteen suspected victims of the serial killer. We have pictures of six who were all found in the Houma area. 22 year old Leon Lirette was found in Houma, 23 year old Kurt Cunningham was found in Lafourche Parish hear Highway 307, 18 year old Datrell Woods was found in Houma, 20 year old Michael Barnett was also found in Houma, 31 year old August Watkins was found along Highway 90 in Lafourche Parish and 26 year old Anoka Jones was from Houma but was found in Saint Charles Parish.

Most of the bodies have been found along the Highway 90 corridor going south toward New Orleans. We've learned that many of the victims have been found without shoes and had either been strangled or suffocated. The victims range in age from sixteen to forty-five years old, and the average age is twenty-five.

Investigators think some of the victims were murdered in other parishes and dumped. The Attorney General's office and the law enforcement agencies who are part of this task force aren't giving out much information - like a description of the person they're looking for. They say they don't want to damage the investigation by releasing too much information.

So far, four victims have been found in St. Charles Parish, six have been found in both Jefferson and Lafourche Parishes. We'll continue to follow this story and update it whenever we uncover new information.

 

20051222: Search for possible serial killer gains momentum LA Baton Rouge Serial Killer News

Just one week before Hurricane Katrina hammered south Louisiana, the state Attorney General’s Office announced a news conference to reveal new information on a string of killings locally and in surrounding parishes.

The news conference, was canceled almost as quickly as it was announced.

Over the summer, law-enforcement agencies in Houma and surrounding areas were investigating up to 18 murders dating back to the late 1990s that they said could be the work of one person.

Then came hurricane season.

Since then, concrete leads released to the public have been few, and two more bodies -- in Thibodaux and Napoleonville -- have been found.

Kris Wartelle, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Charles C. Foti, said the August news conference was canceled due partly to the storms but also because the information was not pertinent to public disclosure.

"Part of the press conference was to announce there was a new task force taking over the investigation," she said. "And a lot of what they were working on got kind of delayed because of the hurricanes. But they are back in full swing, and things are starting to get moving at a normal pace now."

Officially formed about a month ago, the Multiagency Homicide Task Force consists of parish sheriff’s offices from Lafourche, Terrebonne, Jefferson and St. Charles; city police departments from Houma and Kenner; State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the state Probation and Parole Department, Wartelle said.

Ricky Murphy, an Attorney General’s Office agent, has been appointed to oversee the team, she said.

As for information that is being investigated, Wartelle said the task force "does not talk about new leads." She did say, however, that the task force believes most of the cases involve the same perpetrator -- "or perpetrators" -- and the victims’ "past lifestyles" are being closely examined.

Based on the information that has been released thus far through various law-enforcement sources, all of the victims discovered are men, and their remains were found primarily in ditches along rural areas.

Most of the men were from the Houma area as well, and, as such, police have cautiously warned that a serial killer may be stalking victims in the region.

Other bodies have also been found along the highway between Houma and New Orleans.

Houma Police first announced the similarities in April, and Houma Police Chief Pat Boudreaux recently revealed most of the men linked to the suspected serial killer were last seen in and around west Houma.

Local deaths involved in the investigation include Anoka Jones, 26, discovered October 2002; Datrell Woods, 18, discovered May 2003; Michael Barnett, 20, discovered Oct. 25; Leon Lirette, 22, discovered Feb. 20; August Watkins III, 31, discovered April 9; and Kurt Cunningham, 23, discovered April 28.

Most of the bodies were shoeless when found. Asphyxiation, or being deprived of oxygen, has been listed as the cause of death in those murders, though police haven’t revealed how they smothered.

During the summer, the body of Houma resident Wayne Smith, 17, 311 Roselawn St., was found in a drainage ditch near Bayou Grand Caillou. The resulting autopsy was unable to confirm the cause of death or Smith’s identity. Dental records and a recognizable tattoo were eventually used for the official identification.

If you have any information concerning the investigations, call the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office at 876-2500 or the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office at (225) 316-6100.

 

20050702: Police: Man's death may be linked to suspected serial killer LA Bayou Gauche Serial Killer News

 The discovery of a black man's body Saturday morning led detectives to look into whether he was a victim of a suspected serial killer.

Alonzo Hogan, 34, of Raceland was strangled and his body was dumped alongside La. Highway 306 in Bayou Gauche, said Maj. Sam Zinna of St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office.

The body was found at 6:43 a.m. Saturday. The Jefferson Parish Forensic Center performed an autopsy and determined Hogan died from asphyxiation.

"The similarities are there," Zinna said. "It fits into a pattern."

In May, the state attorney general assigned several investigators to look into a string of murders in the southeast Louisiana area. State prosecutors at the time emphasized that it was still too early to say that one killer was responsible for the killings. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also involved in the investigation.

On Saturday, Zinna said detectives are looking into a total of 18 murders since July 1997 that share similarities.

The victims have been found in St. Charles Parish, Kenner, Jefferson Parish, Lafourche Parish and Houma. All the victims were from Houma area and most of the victims were strangled, Zinna said.

Detectives have said some of the men lived what authorities have deemed "high-risk" lifestyles and were dumped in remote but accessible areas. Zinna said Hogan had been arrested in the past, but he would not specify on what charges.

Zinna said investigators had no definite leads and no suspect.

"We need to back track with some details, get a good timeline. Was he in the Houma area?" Zinna said. "We will learn from family and friends where he was going, what he was doing."

 

20050516: Another South Louisiana serial killer? LA Houma Serial Killer News

Details link deaths of nine young men

farmer found Kurt Michael Cunningham's body in a drainage canal about 50 yards from a two-lane highway that meanders between bayous and sugarcane fields near Kraemer.

Wearing only bluejean shorts, the 23-year-old had been floating facedown in brown water for almost five days.

Leon Paul Lirette's body was discovered on the edge of a former World War II blimp air base field in Houma.

The bodies of Datrell Woods and Michael Barnett were found less than a mile from one another in east Houma - Woods' in a sugarcane field, Barnett's next door in a mini-storage facility.

The four bodies, along with those of two other Houma residents, were all found during the past two years along a three-parish swath of southern Louisiana - Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Charles.

The six killings share striking similarities, so much so they're leading law enforcement investigators in Houma and neighboring parishes to suspect a serial killer is responsible.

All six men were found in remote locations, according to Houma Police Lt. Todd Duplantis. All were from Houma. All died suddenly - four from asphyxiation. Authorities have not yet determined the cause of death for the two others.

And, all of the bodies were found someplace other than where they were killed, Boudreaux said.

"There's no evidentiary link between any of the victims," Boudreaux said, referring to DNA, "but there's a loose association to link all of (them)."

All lived "high-risk" lifestyles, said Houma Police Chief Patrick Boudreaux.

"They hung out on the streets," he said. "On average, their mode of transportation was on foot, bicycle, hitching rides. On average, they were involved with drugs in some way."

And they were generally known to trade sexual favors, on occasion, for food, shelter, rides, drugs or alcohol, Boudreaux said.

They also frequented high crime areas in Houma both alone and, most often, on foot, where drug use and prostitution flourish, Duplantis said.

They all had adult or juvenile criminal records, too, Duplantis said. But their brushes with the law ran the range of relatively minor offenses - except for August Terrill Watkins III's aggravated battery with a dangerous weapon charge, for which he served no time.

Possible connection in Kenner

Over the past month, law enforcement officials in the three parishes also have found enough similarities in the six killings to consider linking them to those of three other men found in Kenner - a New Orleans suburb in Jefferson Parish - over an eight-month stretch in 1998 and 1999.

According to Kenner Police Capt. Steve Caraway, the three young men found in the city share many of the same characteristics as the Houma men - spending long stretches of time on the streets, having a history of drug use and having committed lesser criminal offenses.

They also died of asphyxiation, and were discovered in places other than where they died.

Caraway said authorities found 16-year-old Joseph Brown of Boutte along the side of the road on Veterans Boulevard in October 1998. They found 20-year-old Manuel Reed of New Orleans in a Dumpster on Bainbridge Street in May 1999 and 19-year-old Angel Mejea, whose family lived near Brown's, next to a Dumpster on Delaware Avenue in June 1999.

The police department there hasn't had any new leads on the three homicides, but it continues to devote manpower to the cases and has been sharing information with the other jurisdictions, he added.

And over the past month, the Louisiana Attorney General's office, the Louisiana State Police and the FBI have joined the investigation in some capacity, Boudreaux said.

'Too young to wake up'

On the day before his son's funeral, Richard Cunningham sat on a leather sofa in the den of his Memory Lane home. He rubbed his face repeatedly and grimaced as he spoke about his son, Kurt Cunningham.

In a prepared statement, Richard Cunningham discussed how all of the victims made decisions in their lives they no longer had the time to amend.

"(Kurt) was on a path and was too young to wake up," he said, glancing at one of many family photos that surrounded him on pink walls. "He was a victim, not a criminal."

Natasha Crappel, Kurt Cunningham's cousin, said he was a drifter, but someone who was close to his family and, thus, always had a place to sleep.

"Kurt would've given you anything," she said. "He didn't try to put his problems off on nobody, and wouldn't ask for help unless he was really bad off."

Kurt's father and cousin said he loved to skateboard. Crappel also described her cousin as someone who loved to draw, and was developing into a decent artist.

Victims were acquainted

Before he was killed in February, Leon Paul "T-Paul" Lirette was a fixture on Bergeron Street, family and neighbors said. He used to live with his mother, Judy Lirette, in a brown trailer.

Today, the trailer is abandoned and boarded up.

"He was a good little boy," neighbor Irene Trahan said. "He didn't go many places."

One of Lirette's cousins, Mandy Chaisson, said he smoked some marijuana from time to time and took his disability or Social Security check money to pay for sex on U.S. Route 90. However, he was a nice person, she added.

Chaisson said Lirette knew Anoka Jones - a 26-year-old neighbor found in October 2002 under an overpass on U.S. Route 90 in St. Charles Parish. Jones was another of the unsolved homicides, according to Houma police records. Chief Boudreaux would not elaborate on their connection, other than to say they knew one another.

Judy Lirette said her son didn't make any enemies, and she couldn't understand why anyone would've wanted to hurt him.

When she learned of his death, she said she remembers falling to her knees.

"Right now, I'm just waiting for them to find whoever did this and put him behind bars," Judy Lirette said in a weary voice. "He's killing too many people."

Wrong place, wrong time

Terrill Watkins was 31 years old when his body was found last month in a ditch near Raceland, just off U.S. Route 90.

Watkins' aunt, Octavia Jones, sat on the steps of her trailer in the 200 block of Peters Street and looked at the ground. She remembers when detectives came to her door with the news of Watkins' death.

"The day I heard the news, it scared the hell out of me," she said.

And with each new victim turning up, she's still scared, she said.

"All of us were close to him," Jones said. "He didn't seem to have a dangerous life. He was a cleaning man - he liked to clean."

Watkins would help people on Peters Street by asking to cut grass and trim hedges, Jones said.

He lived, for some time, in a small, shed-like house behind another property, neighbors and friends Rosalind Johnson and Frank "Nitti" Smith said.

"I used to feed him three times a day, sometimes," Johnson said. "We'd feed him if he was ever hungry."

His brother, 34-year-old Landry Watkins, said Terrill drew veteran's benefits and Social Security income to pay for anything he needed.

"(Terrill) wasn't the type that would hurt anybody," he said. "He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Although many agencies are investigating the killings, none has taken the lead, according to Kris Wartelle, public information director for the state Attorney General's office. Her office, for instance, is serving as a database depository for all of the agencies involved, she said.

THE VICTIMS

The nine victims

  • Joseph Brown, 16, of the Boutte area of St. Charles Parish was found alongside the 1000 block of Veterans Boulevard in Kenner in October 1998. He had been suffocated.

  • Manuel Reed, 20, of New Orleans was found in a Dumpster in the 2400 block of Bainbridge Street in Kenner in May 1999. He had been strangled.

  • Angel Mejea, 19, was found next to a Dumpster in the 2600 block of Delaware Avenue in Kenner in June 1999. The Dumpster intended for Mejea was full. He had been strangled. Mejea slept wherever he could find a place; his family lived in Boutte (near Brown's family).

  • Anoka Jones, 26, of Houma was found under a U.S. Highway 90 overpass in Boutte in St. Charles Parish in October 2002. He had been strangled.

  • Datrell Woods, 18, of Houma was found in a sugarcane field, near Woodlawn Ranch Road in eastern Houma in May 2003. Authorities ruled his cause of death to be asphyxiation due to asthma.

  • Michael Barnett, 20, of Houma was found in October in a mini-storage unit less than a mile from where Woods' body was found. He had been asphyxiated.

  • Leon Paul Lirette, 22, of Houma was found under a tree in a field on Houma Airbase off 200 Moffet Road in February. He had been asphyxiated.

  • August Terrill Watkins III, 31, of Houma was found in a ditch off U.S. Route 90 near Raceland last month. His cause of death could not be determined by autopsy.

  • Kurt Michael Cunningham, 23, of Houma was found in a drainage canal roughly 50 yards from state Highway 307, last month. Lafourche authorities are still determining what caused his death.
  •  

    20050424: Police Search for Possible Serial Killer LA Lafayette Serial Killer News

    The bodies of five men in the Houma area have been linked and police are worried that it is the work of a serial killer.

    Sources are worried the body count could nearly double.

    Judy Lirette clutches a photo of her son.

    She can barely look at it because it brings back too many painful memories.

    Judy Lirette: I really miss him. I can't even keep this picture up on that wall...

    Two months after his death , police now think he might be the victim of a serial killer.

    Detectives have connected his death to four other men in killed in south Louisiana over the past two years.

    Sources say there could be as many as nine victims.

    Police say all the victims were men under the age 35.

    Nearly all of the men were strangled and then dumped in a remote area.

     


    Copyright 1995-2005 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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