Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press
JACKSON, La. (AP) -- Investigators who dug up a driveway looking for
a woman's body at a house once occupied by the suspected south
Louisiana serial killer came up empty-handed, but began looking at
more sites Friday.
West Feliciana Parish Sheriff Austin Daniel said the sites were
connected to serial killings suspect Derrick Todd Lee, but declined
to elaborate. Lee once worked for a concrete company.
East Feliciana Parish Sheriff Talmadge Bunch said Thursday
authorities were looking for the body of Randi Mebruer, 28, of
Zachary, who disappeared in 1998.
He said investigators got a tip after Lee, 34, was named as the
suspected serial killer responsible for five murders in Baton Rouge
and Lafayette. Lee was arrested in Atlanta on Tuesday.
A one-time neighbor of Lee's told investigators that the concrete
slab that was dug up Thursday had been poured in the middle of the
night about the time Mebruer disappeared, authorities said.
At that time, Lee worked for a concrete company and stayed at the
house with a girlfriend. The slab is in the middle of a gravel
driveway, and investigators brought in a backhoe to rip it up.
Investigators uncovered a 4-inch bone fragment, but it turned out to
be an animal bone, authorities said. The dig was called off Thursday
night and the hole was refilled.
On Friday, search dogs were sent to a slab located near a barn near
Jackson, but no digging was performed. Investigators then went a
short distance down a street to examine a driveway in front of a
Lee faces charges of murder and rape in the deaths of five women in
Baton Rouge and Lafayette, the attempted murder and attempted rape of
a sixth woman in St. Martin Parish, and kidnapping and burglary.
Zachary Police Chief Joey Watson has said he long suspected Lee was
the culprit responsible for the disappearance of Mebruer, as well as
the 1992 slaying of Connie Warner, 41, and the 1993 machete attack of
two teenagers in a cemetery who were not killed.
``We know more about him now as an individual and would suspect him
much stronger now than we did two weeks ago. He seems like the kind
of guy that would have done the things we're looking at,'' Watson
said earlier Thursday, in a telephone interview.
``We're hoping for a match in some of the evidence we submitted to
the crime lab, a DNA match,'' Watson said. ``We were also hoping to
talk to him.''
And police are digging into other cases. In at least a half dozen
parishes, investigators are reviewing a timeline of Lee's crimes and
travels or sending evidence to the State Police Crime Lab.
Daniel said he's interested in talking to Lee about the December 2002
disappearance of Glenn Tankersley, 67. Baton Rouge police are
investigating a possible link to the murder of Christine Moore, 23,
whose family has said they believe Moore was a victim of the serial
Attorney General Richard Ieyoub told WBRZ-TV that his office got
warrants to search Lee's home outside of St. Francisville in
connection with the disappearance of Mari Ann Fowler, 65, and the
murder of Geralyn DeSoto, 21.
Fowler, the wife of imprisoned former state Elections Commissioner
Jerry Fowler, was abducted on Christmas Eve from a Port Allen
DeSoto, of Addis, was beaten and stabbed to death. Her neck was
slashed and her body found in January 2002.
Police in St. Martin Parish were also reviewing all cases that could
fit Lee's profile, Capt. Audrey Thibodaux said.
Last year, the Iberville Parish sheriff gave evidence from the 1997
murder of Eugenie Boisfontaine, 34, to the State Police Crime Lab to
be compared to the DNA gathered in the serial killer investigation.
At one time, Boisfontaine lived on the same Baton Rouge street as
known serial killer victims Gina Wilson Green and Charlotte Murray
Pace. Boisfontaine's relatives have met with family and friends of
the serial killer victims to swap scraps of information that might
link Boisfontaine's murder.
New Orleans police asked for serial killer DNA to compare with that
found in at least three murder victims, Capt. Marlon Defillo said.
He said investigators do not think they are related, because the
women were street-type drug users _ very different from the
businesswomen and college students targeted by the serial killer _
but they want to check as a precaution.
Lee was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Wednesday night
and is being held without bond, after a judge advised him Thursday
that state law does not allow bond in a death penalty case. The brief
hearing was over closed-circuit TV with Lee remaining in the prison;
it was not open to the public.
The public defender's office was appointed to defend Lee. Mike
Mitchell, head of the public defender's office, said he met with Lee
Thursday morning but was unsure if he would take the case or pass it
on to one of his colleagues.
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East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Doug Moreau said
prosecutors would seek the death penalty. He said he expected
evidence would be presented to a grand jury within a few weeks.