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Archive for Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Serial killer suspect identified

May 27, 2003

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— 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 five 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 fifth 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 four 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 two 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 three 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 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.

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