Log inskip to content

Louisiana’s Next Serial Killer

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

The shadowy figure that had authorities stumped and local women emptying stores shelves of mace in 2003 is the man we all now know as serial killer Derrick Todd Lee.  To live in southern Louisiana at the time and be a woman was to live in fear.  People across the nation watched as Louisiana attempted, and repeatedly bungled, its attempts to find the killer. The unnamed terror eventually came to have a face after Lee's arrest in May 2003.  With it brought the more startling revelation that we'd had reason to fear for far longer; Lee had been on a murderous rampage for years - his first (officially recognized) victim was Randi Mebruer, who was murdered in 1998.  It would not be until 2002, with the deaths of Gina Green, Geralyn DeSoto, and Murray Pace before the rash of brutal deaths were linked to one person and the authorities began a manhunt for a serial killer.

Not long after Lee's arrest, and with much less fanfare, Sean Vincent Gillis, was arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for multiple murders.  Evidence and his own confession linked him to at least eight slayings; the first being 82 year-old Ann Bryan in 1994.

Between 1994 and 2003 there were two serial killers on the loose in southern Louisiana.  More frightening than this actuality is the fact that the fifteen murders attributed to these two men account for only a small percentage of the unsolved murders of women in the area.

Crime profiler John Philpin, in his piece Red Stick by the Numbers: The Baton Rouge Serial Murders, states:

In the decade of the nineties, the Baton Rouge area recorded thirty-plus unsolved cases of missing and/or murdered women. In the first two-and-one-half years of this decade, there have already been thirty-plus.

If the numbers are reduced by those cases which demonstrate no similarities to the official five [Author's Note - "official five" meaning the cases initially linked to Lee by DNA evidence], instead of sixty-plus victims, the total for the thirteen-and-one-half years is between thirty and forty.

Putting the monsters known as Derrick Todd Lee and Sean Vincent Gillis behinds bars has not - unfortunately - stemmed the tide of women being killed in southern Louisiana; nor the capture of their killers.  In the late 90's and early 00's there were apparently two men going about the business of being serial killers; all to the ignorance of the general public.  We had no reason to fear or be on extra alert - as we were during the "hunt" for the Baton Rouge Serial Killer.  The probability of being watched, stalked, and especially taken was not - to our knowledge - any more than it ever was.  We were ignorant to the sinister evil that lived around and among us, and that ignorance cost many women their lives.

Simply because Lee and Gillis are off the streets does not mean we should ever let our guard down.  There are still unsolved murders not attributed to either of them, and there is much evidence that they were not - are not - the only murderers living in the surrounding areas.  Just as one example:  It is common, local knowledge that the murder of numerous black prostitutes in Baton Rouge's rundown "Mall City" area has been going on for years now.  No one has been arrested for the slayings.

Sadly, such an ugly truth is being brought to light again.

The story of a young girl who has been missing since November 2 from Jennings, Louisiana reveals much more than just her disappearance.  It is believed that 17 year-old Brittany Ann Gary may have become the latest victim of Louisiana's next realized serial killer.

Over the past three years, it has been revealed, the bodies of six women have been recovered in and around the area.  Brittany knew most of them, was friends with one, and the cousin of another; a fact that authorities believe may have made her a viable target.

It began on May 20, 2005 when the body of 28 year-old Loretta Lynn Chaisson was found in a canal.  Ernestine Marie Daniel Patterson, 29, was found 6 miles away in another canal just seventeen days later.  The cases remained cold until the bodies of Kristen Gary Lopez, 21, and Whitnei Charlene Dubois, 26, were found in March and May, respectively, in 2007.  In May of this year, Laconia Shontel Brown, 23, was found on a rural road in Jennings and the decomposed body of Crystal Shay Benoit Zeno, 23, was found on September 11 in Jefferson Davis Parish.

While I hope and pray for Brittany and her family that she will be found alive and well, it is hard not to assume the worst.

It would appear that Louisiana has ferreted out another serial killer from its apparently endless supply.  Let us hope the efforts to catch this bastard can come to a positive resolution before any other women have to die needlessly.

Local News Sites Need New Writers

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

I have been increasingly infuriated with the poor grammar, bad spelling, and too-numerous-to-count mistakes that appear in local news stories on websites 2theadvocate.com (WBRZ News 2 and local newspaper, The Advocate) and wafb.com (Channel 9), but I believe I have finally reached my boiling point.

I have tried to take into consideration that this is the Internet and therefore a bit more "casual" than  other media sources; however, that does not even begin to excuse the apathy with which these media outlets put their content online.  They are supposed to be professional, but their writing - and mistakes - make them seem anything but.

I could perhaps let slip the fact that their writing is lackluster, contrived, and often unintelligible.  I might could even look over the writer's personal opinions often being thrown into what should be unbiased, professional news stories.  Hell, let's even excuse the complete lack of proofreading these pieces obviously go through - each article has, at the very least, one error that could and should have been caught by proofreading; most have more than one or two.  Yet I can no longer stand by when, added to that heap, these "journalists" do not appear to have the slightest grasp on grammar or even sentence structure!

As an example (and I could provide many more), here is an article - unedited by me, as is - that is currently running over at WAFB:

The Baton Rouge man accused of killing his two young boys to get revenge on his wife will be examined by mental health experts. Clayton Murphy junior appeared in district court Thursday and showed little emotion. This from a man who allegedly stabbed two kids and called his wife to tell her about it.

Clayton Murphy jr, will have a mental evaluation before his case goes any further. Prosecutors expect to seek the death penalty after Murphy was caught by police standing over the body of his own 2-year-old son Tayshaun. The other child,  8-year-old Juwan was laying dead in the other room. Prosecutor Aaron Brooks said, " this is horrendous, unspeakable, unforgivable." Defense attorney Margaret Lagatudda said, "something must have happened for someone whose never been in trouble never done anything violent before...something had to snap to kill children that he loved."

An East Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy fired one shot at Murphy but missed him. After he was arrested, deputies say Murphy confessed to the killings. The mental evaluation will determine whether the prosecution seeks the death penalty or life in prison. Brooks said, " the evidence I've reviewed so far support the possibility of first degree murder indictment that will be there call but that is what we will present and we'll seek." But first Murphy has to be evaluated. Lagatudda said, " does he understand the court proceedings that's the first step. We have some information we believe theres gonna be some mental health issues. So before I get to the mental health I want to determine if he's competent."

The mental health report is due back to judge johnson December fifth. Murphy will be back in court December 11th.

Can you count the errors?  This sounds like a really bad blog post rather than a professionally-written article published on a valid news source.  Let's review - errors in bold, my corrections in italics:

The Baton Rouge man accused of killing his two young boys to get revenge on his wife will be examined by mental health experts. Clayton Murphy junior (Clayton Murphy, Jr.) appeared in district court Thursday and showed little emotion. This from a man who allegedly stabbed two kids and called his wife to tell her about it. (Superfluous, personal opinion - should be taken out.)

Clayton Murphy jr (Jr.), will have a mental evaluation before his case goes any further. Prosecutors expect to seek the death penalty after Murphy was caught by police standing over the body of his own (Superfluous.  Obviously his son was his "own'".  Again, putting too much personal emotion into the news piece) 2-year-old son (2 year-old) Tayshaun. The other child,  8-year-old (8 year-old) Juwan (missing comma) was laying (lying) dead in the other room. Prosecutor Aaron Brooks said, " this is horrendous, unspeakable, unforgivable." Defense attorney Margaret Lagatudda said, "something must have happened for someone whose (who's) never been in trouble (missing comma) never done anything violent before...something had to snap to kill children that he loved."

An East Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy fired one shot at Murphy but missed him. After he was arrested, deputies say Murphy confessed to the killings. The mental evaluation will determine whether the prosecution seeks the death penalty or life in prison. Brooks said, " the (The, no space before the quote) evidence I've reviewed so far support (supports) the possibility of (a) first degree murder indictment that will be there (their) call but that is what we will present and we'll seek." (Don't even get me started on the preceding quote - let's just say that sentence called, and it wants its punctuation back) But first Murphy has to be evaluated. Lagatudda said, " does (Does, no space before the quote) he understand the court proceedings (? Begin new sentence with "That's") that's the first step. We have some information (,) we believe theres (there's) gonna be some mental health issues. So before I get to the mental health I want to determine if he's competent."

The mental health report is due back to judge johnson (you're kidding me, right?  /sigh  Judge Johnson) December fifth (December 5th, especially since it is written this way in the next sentence). Murphy will be back in court December 11th.

I probably even missed some.  The main problem with this is that it isn't just one article or one particular "journalist" at either place; this is nearly every article that appears on both sites.  Either they don't care about the content they are putting online or they really are very bad writers.

I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I just don't know that I can at this point.  The problem has actually gotten worse instead of better - or even remaining the same.  Do these "journalists" give a toss about their credentials, their bodies of work, how they are going to look to the public at large?  Professionalism seems to be an afterthought; if it's a thought at all.

Every time I go to read an article at either site I find myself yelling out loud at the screen over the ridiculousness printed there.  I am simply fed up with their lack of professionalism and complete disregard for the very basics of writing (sentence structure, grammar, etc.)  It sickens me to think this is the future of our media, and with college graduates hardly being able to write their way out of a paper bag with both ends cut out, I don't see this improving in the future.

I want to believe these people can write better than this.  Perhaps they all just need much better editors and to hire some actual proofreaders; I really can't say.

Just How Stupid Can Someone Be?

Friday, July 11th, 2008

I'll preface this newsworthy-bit of stupidty with a quick explanation, for those not in the know...

A Fuelman card is one used by companies that have field personnel, delivery people, fleet drivers, or the like on roadways for gas purchases.  The gas card allows companies to keep up with employees' fueling and gives them a way to pay a set monthly fee for gas usage.

That being said, let me introduce you to a local man by the name of James Cotton.  I'm unaware how long Mr. Cotton, aged forty-three years, has been an employee of Mockler Beverage but what is apparent is that somewhere in the past couple of weeks, he believed he had stumbled upon a sure proof way to garner some extra cash-on-the-side for himself.

Being the resourceful man he obviously is, and realizing the hurt the high gas prices are having on people's pocketbooks, Mr. Cotton realized he was in a position to help ease the locals' gas woes while padding his own pocketbook.

By now, I'd imagine, you do realize where this is going.

Yes, for reasons unknown to the more sensible members of the population, Mr. Cotton seemed unaware that his employer could or would keep tabs on his gas-spending purchases.  Though it seems hard to fathom that even such an astute individual as Mr. Cotton has proven himself to be here could not have had an inkling that the company's accountants might notice $7,000 in charges to his company-issued Fuelman card; even moreso considering those charges were accrued within only a two week period.

Mr. Cotton, it seems, was selling gas to other people - on the company's dollar.  Perhaps he thought the Fuelman card was simply a "free gas" card?  Perhaps he believed it was not monitored?  Perhaps he didn't think at all.

Something tells me the latter may be the correct answer.

Original article: Man arrested for allegedly misuing company fuel card, WAFB Channel 9, Baton Rouge.

Crime in Baton Rouge

Tuesday, May 25th, 2004

I wrote this piece last week and wasn't going to post it because, seriously, who cares about the crime in Baton Rouge?

Then a terrible thing happened at the Wal-Mart I used to visit at least once a week - a man getting arrested for shoplifting got the gun away from the police officer, a 51-year old woman, and shot and killed her. He also shot two people who were trying to help her, one of them a security guard. He then ran outside, carjacked someone outside and got away. He turned himself in just recently.

I can't tell you how many times I and my friends have shopped in this particular Wal-Mart late at nite, and all times of the day. It's not in the best neighborhood, but it isn't necessarily in a bad one either. I recognize the police woman - she was always there. After hearing about this, I thought my piece just might be relevant after all:

What in the hell is wrong with Baton Rouge? As if this fuckass sorry-excuse-for-a-city wasn't already visually ugly and full of ignorant, old-fashioned, horrible-driving asshats it now has to be one of the most unsafe places to live in the country.

Unknown to many people, Baton Rouge has pretty much always had a higher crime rate, per capita, than the sinfully renowned New Orleans. It doesn't appear to be improving.

As many of you are likely aware, last year found southern Louisiana gripped in fear and panic over a shadowy serial killer. The nameless monster we now know as Derrick Todd Lee was captured May 27, 2003 and the rest of the world soon forgot about Louisiana and its serial killer troubles.

It was a different story for the residents of my home state. Though two other murdered women were linked to Lee via DNA, bringing his total killed to seven, there were still too many unsolved murders floating around for anyone to be comfortable. What hasn't made the national headlines is that last month, April 28, 2004, Sean Vincent Gillis was arrested for the murder of eight other women in southern Louisiana. Looking at the timeline of the murders, this means that from 1994 up until February of this year, with the death of Donna Bennett Johnson, there were two serial killers on the loose and on the prowl.

All you can think at this point is, "That's the two they've found!" There are still unsolved murders that can't be linked to either of these men. If there can be two sickos out there at one time killing innocent people, why can't there be more? Louisiana is getting quite the reputation for churning out lesser life forms.

Everyone remembers the Washington Sniper, John Allen Muhammed. But does everyone remember where the Washington Sniper was from? That's right, Baton Rouge - born and raised. In an amazingly small number of years Louisiana, namely Baton Rouge, has managed to churn out three serial killers.

That's a lot of really sick people hailing from one location. Yet the number of serial killings is nothing compared to the simple old meat-and-potatoes murder that happens every day in Baton Rouge. Yes, every day in Baton Rouge someone gets shot. Every day. Just last week a co-workers' teen brother was killed in a drive-by; he was standing on his porch.

You might be reading this and thinking, "That's no big deal. It's a city - that's what it's like in every city." But this is Baton Rouge, people - it isn't like any other city at all. This is not New York or Chicago with miles and miles of concrete jungle and corporate skyscrapers. Baton Rouge's tallest building, its State Capitol, only has 34 floors. Public transportation is a joke for the fact that the city is so wide and sparse there are parts that buses just don't go to. I call Baton Rouge a "suburban city"; it is a fitting moniker. The people here have a small-town mentality, and if it weren't for the mighty Mississip flowing right through this place, it'd be a horrible choice for a state capitol. There's nothing showy or big or fancy about Baton Rouge. It's a big town with a bigger-than-itself title. The fact that crime is as rampant here as in the streets of New Orleans (which is much more a "real" city), or other real cities like New York or Washington D.C., frightens me.

Louisiana is second in the nation when it comes to stupid kids. No, let's be blunt here. We don't give a rats ass about education in this state - if we did, then we wouldn't have illiterate children graduating high school and more than half of the population now dropping out before they even reach high school. Second-to-worse. Could the influx of criminals coming out of southern Louisiana have something to do with our second-rate education system? I've got a hunch it just might.

Louisiana big-thinkers think the answer to wiping out the unlawful and murderous is to throw them in prison. Lock 'em up, and develop a life-with-no-possibility-for-parole system - that'll fix it right up. Yet it hasn't, and it won't. Louisiana prisons are full and getting fuller; low-level offenders are put back out in the street time and time again because there's just no room for them.

Perhaps it's time for a new approach. Let concentrate on our children, so that they don't grow up to be criminals. Let's stop the problem before it starts, rather than trying to put out a brushfire with a handkerchief. Creating bad apples then locking them all up when they began to rot is fruitless (forgive the pun). If we work harder at raising and educating our children, then maybe we wouldn't have so many Derrick Todd Lee's, Sean Vincent Gillis's, and John Allen Muhammed's running around.

What's the future for Baton Rouge? Who wants to raise a family in a town that produces serial killers and murderous criminals at such an alarming rate? Who wants to live in southern Louisiana at all with such people running around? What is it going to take for us to make a change for the better? When Baton Rouge is churning out two new serial killers every year, and hundreds of women have lost their lives, then will they wake up?

Shittiest of the Shitty

Friday, May 21st, 2004

For fuck's sake. People you must believe me when I tell you that Baton Rouge has the worst drivers. I know everyone thinks that about where they live, but I promise you, that's only because you've never driven here for an extended period of time.

I'm a good driver, and I'm not some schmuck on the road who thinks that and still drives like a fuckwad. I've never had a speeding ticket, never been in an accident and never talk on my cell phone and drive. When I'm driving, I'm driving and paying attention to the task at hand.

Yet this seems to draw every doing-everything-but-driving-moron to me like a magnet. I almost got hit twice coming home from work today. Twice, and by no fault of my own. When I arrived (somehow) safely at my destination, I was a shaking, furious mess. Even a cigarette couldn't quell the shaking - but it did help with the anger, and then I started crying. I'm going to have to move out of Baton Rouge simply because driving around here is gonig to kill me! And not in the way you may think - most likely in the form of spending the rest of my life in prison after beating the idiot who hits my car to death.

Near-Hit #1
I am sitting at a four-way stop. I start to go. As I begin to cross the intersection, a huge pick-up truck comes at me from the right. At the time, he swung out so far to prepare for his right turn, I thought he just didn't see me and was going to hit me. As it was, he stopped as he was supposed to but was already so far out into the intersection that I had to swerve in the other lane to avoid his knocking the side of my car.

I calmed down and continued my commute. Not too bad, I figured. Just some jerk who pulled out too far.

Near-Hit #2
I was almost home, sitting at the light on the off-ramp behind an Escalade with Dumb Rich White Lady in it. There's only one left turn lane here, so as the light turns green, DRWL procedes to turn at the pace of molasses. When we get onto the road, she is straddling both lanes, then slowly veers over to the left lane. I waited a second to make sure she was going to stay there, then continued turning into and going down the right lane. A few paces down she decides she'd rather be in the right lane and begins just slowly veering over into it - no blinker or anything, just coming right on over. The bomp-bomp-booooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmp of my horn might've have been a hint to more intelligent drivers that they were about to hit someone; not DRWL, though. And she sure as hell was about to hit me - I honestly still don't know how she didn't, because when she started coming over, my front end was about even with the center of her ugly Escalade. Thankfully for Stella and I, DRWL apparently drives like molasses all of the time and I was spared from being knocked off the road by some rich, white bitch who wasn't paying attention to what she was doing. I was livid - and scared. I don't usually get too scared, as I'm usually expecting people to do dumb shit and am prepared - and I'd even kept in mind that she likely might swerve over into my lane, but it was still too close for comfort.

I don't understand. What in the hell are people doing when they're supposed to be driving? I realize that half of them, as anyone can plainly see, are more interested in their cell phone convo's than the road, but what about the ones that aren't on the phone and still aren't driving worth a damn?! There is not a DAY that passes that I don't see someone do something incredibly stupid and dangerous. Not one day - and, folks, I don't drive that much. 15 mins to work, and 15 mins back is about it. Other times we go out, Baret is the one driving and I'm trying not to pay too much attention because it just stresses me out too much.

I can understand blindspots and making mistakes, but unlike the woman in the Beetle a few weeks ago, and this dumb bitch this evening - when I hear someone laying on their horn as I'm changing lanes, I'm going to swerve back and look at where I'm going. I'm sure as hell not going to keep on coming over! What are they thinking: "Oh, they can stop" or "How dare they not let me in?!" Sometimes a blaring horn may be a signal that there is someone in the path you're moving into who can't stop! This is not rocket science. In fact, it's very simple: I'm not honking at you because I feel like you're cutting me off or because I don't want to let you in - I'm honking because you are about to hit MY CAR!! Hel-fucking-lo?!

Deep breaths. Deep breaths and another swig of beer.

There is nothing on the face of the earth that I despise right now more than bad drivers.

But I do feel better for letting that all out. Thank you.