Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Derrick Todd Lee, Baton Rouge Serial Killer

An Ongoing Investigation

By September 2002, the task force released more information concerning the footprint discovered at the murder scene of Charlotte Pace. A Rawlings brand athletic shoe made the print. The shoe, a men's size 10 or 11, was easier to identify because of its unique sole. It was a brand commonly sold at local discount stores.

Athletic shoe print
Athletic shoe print

That month, the task force also released the detailed testimony of a woman who had an unusual encounter with a man outside a Winn Dixie food store in mid-August. According to the woman in a WDSU News Channel 6 interview, she was packing her groceries when the stranger approached her and began to question what she was doing. The man, carrying a jug of water then followed her out of the store into the empty parking lot, chatting to her all the while. He mentioned his name was Joe and that he worked in construction.

He then told her he could lift her up, although she was a large woman. Joe asked her to go out with him that night and was disappointed when she refused. The unusually persistent man said he wanted to get her a gift from his vehicle. He walked toward a large white truck that appeared to the woman to match the one connected with the murders. From his truck he retrieved a tree vine and gave it to her. The woman was petrified and went to her car to wait for the man to leave. Shortly after the man drove off, she contacted the police.

During an interview with the police the woman was shown a sketch of a man suspected to have been involved in the killings. She said he looked just like Joe. However, the composite did not match that obtained by the Mississippi woman who had been raped by a man in a white truck two days following Kinamore's disappearance. Nevertheless, investigators seized on the new evidence. Investigators analyzed surveillance videos of the parking lot, but it is unclear if the man was the suspect they sought.

Composite of suspect
Composite of suspect

On November 21, 2002, a 23-year-old female Marine named Treneisha Dene Colomb disappeared. At about 1:30 p.m. that day her black 1994 Mazda MX3 was found with the keys in the ignition on Robbie Road in Grand Coteau. However, Colomb was nowhere in sight.

Three days later a rabbit hunter discovered the nude remains of Colomb several hundred yards off the roadside in a wooded area in St. Landry Parish. Her body was found 30 miles from where her car had been discovered several days earlier. Medical examiners said she had been bludgeoned to death.

Colomb had strongly resisted her attacker before she died. Task force investigators further revealed one month after her death that DNA evidence linked Colomb with the Pace, Green and Kinamore murders. According to the Washington Times, she was to be the Baton Rouge serial killer's first known black victim and the first to be found outside the Baton Rouge area.

Treneisha Dene Colomb
Treneisha Dene Colomb

Following Colomb's murder, FBI and task force investigators were able to provide the public with a more detailed investigative analysis of the killer and his behavior. They compiled a personality profile of the murderer based on information from similar crimes that occurred nationally and the specific details of the four recent crimes. According to investigators, the public release of a behavioral profile is an uncommon practice. However, the task force believed that informing the public might lead to more people coming forward with knowledge about the killer.

The profile suggested the killer was male, between 25 and 35 years old. They believed he might be physically strong, due to his ability to lift the bodies of the deceased women and carry them over unstable terrain, such as extremely muddy areas. He probably worked in a job that required such strength. Investigators believed it was highly likely the killer earned a below average to average income. He probably worked in a position that required little social interaction with other people.

There was evidence to suggest the murderer was able to obtain information on his victims before he abducted them. It appeared he had knowledge concerning the women's lifestyles and schedules and may have stalked them. Moreover, the four murders were probably planned, even though the killer showed signs of impulsivity.

The behavioral analysis also suggested the killer was insecure and had difficulty interacting with women, especially those who portrayed themselves as sophisticated. Women he approached might have described him as being awkward, but harmless. He may have "crossed the line" with some of the women he knew, those in whom he developed an intense interest.

FBI profilers believed the offender likely displayed intense anger, anxiousness, irritation and preoccupation with the news concerning the victims and any recent breakthrough discoveries related to the cases. He may have even verbally renounced any investigative leads and blamed the victims for their deaths.

In December 2002, task force investigators revealed a new lead in the case. They released a composite sketch of a man task force investigators called a "person of interest." He is about 35 years old and white. The person was purportedly seen in a white pickup truck in the area where Colomb's body was discovered on the same day and around the same time she went missing. The truck allegedly matched the description of the one seen in connection with the murder of Kinamore.

Composite sketch of person of interest
Composite sketch of person
of interest

That same month, the task force told the public that it would be collecting DNA samples from approximately 100 potential suspects. The suspects were asked to voluntarily submit saliva samples obtained from a brisk swabbing of the mouth or scrapping of the cheeks. One month earlier, 600 men had been asked to provide such samples. Those who refused to comply were further investigated and were said to have received some pressure from investigators until they willingly volunteered.

Public fears climbed steadily. The Washington Times wrote that gun and pepper spray sales had greatly increased in the area, as well as enrollment in self-defense classes. Even student class attendance at LSU slightly decreased, because of fears of being abducted and murdered by the Baton Rouge serial killer. Investigators realized that if they didn't catch the killer soon, a panic might ensue.

Colomb's Love ring
Colomb's "Love" ring

In January 2003, the task force announced a new major development in the Baton Rouge killer case. It found another shoeprint, allegedly from the killer, in the vicinity of Colomb's body. It was the second shoeprint to be found in connection with the killer. The first print was found at the murder scene of Charlotte Pace. The shoe size was the same in both instances, a men's 10 to 11.

A CNN.com article stated that the shoeprint was made by a pair of $40, 2002 model "Adidas-type" basketball shoes, likely purchased in the area. Investigators also revealed that one of Colomb's possessions was missing at the time of her death. The article was a ring with "Love" inscribed on it. The information was released in hopes that someone would come forward with information about the suspect. Investigators believed the chances of catching the killer were becoming more likely with every piece of new evidence.

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