Derrick Todd Lee, Baton Rouge Serial Killer
Derrick Todd Lee
During the last week of May 2003, DNA swabs taken from a West Feliciana Parish man who resembled the most recent composite of the suspect were rushed to the crime labs for analysis. It didn't take long for the lab technician processing the samples to realize that there was a positive match between the suspects DNA and samples taken from Carrie Lynn Yoder. Technicians were able to further link the suspect to three more murders attributed to the suspected Baton Rouge serial killer. After many long months, investigators finally had their key suspect, thirty-four-year old Derrick Todd Lee.
On Monday 26, 2003 police issued an arrest warrant for Lee, who fled to Chicago and then Atlanta in an effort to escape murder charges. At the time the warrant was issued, he and his family had been gone for approximately three weeks. Police learned that on the day Lee voluntarily provided a DNA sample, his wife Jacqueline withdrew their young son and daughter from school, claiming they were moving to Los Angeles. The couple then quickly packed up their belongings and abandoned their brown-brick ranch style house on 4273 U.S. 61 in St.Francisville of West Feliciana Parish, La.
On May 27, 2003, Atlanta police working with a joint FBI-metropolitan Atlanta task force apprehended Lee at a hotel where he was lodging. Lee waived extradition and was flown back to Louisiana the following day. Initially he was charged with only Carrie Lynn Yoder's murder. However, by early June he was also accused of the rape and murder of Green, Pace, Kinamore and Colomb based on DNA evidence linking him to the crimes.
During the investigation into Lee, the police learned that he had an extensive criminal history. According to Penny Brown Roberts, staff writer for 2theadvocate.com, Lee's youthful record included a string of juvenile offenses that stretched back to 1984 when he was caught peeping into the home of a St. Francisville woman's home. It would mark the first of many such offenses. Robert's further states that Lee never really outgrew his teenage fetish.
As Lee grew older his "rap sheet" became more extended, including arrests for attempted first-degree murder, stalking, peeping into homes, as well as break in and burglary, among other crimes. According to Roberts, Dunne and Millhollon, Lee's arrests and related incidents between 1992 and 2001 were as follows:
November 1992: Lee arrested for illegal entry and burglary of Zachary resident Rob Benge's house.
January 1993: Lee and his accomplice, Thomas Whitaker Jr. were arrested for breaking into the home of seventy-three-year old Melvin Foster, whom they beat with a stick and robbed.
July 1993: Lee sentenced to one year in prison for burglary.
September 1995: Lee arrested for a peeping incident and resisting arrest, after being chased and caught by police after looking into the window of a woman. During the same month, Lee was arrested again for stealing from a Salvation Army Thrift Store.
August 1997: Lee arrested after being caught looking into the windows of a woman.
August 1999: Lee arrested after being caught in a woman's residence uninvited, for being a peeping Tom and stalking.
December 1999: Received a suspended sentence on a misdemeanor stalking charge.
January 2000: Accused of attempted first-degree murder after severely kicking and stomping his girlfriend Consandra Green at a bar after an argument over Lee's advances towards another woman. While trying to flee from the police following the incident he allegedly tried and to run over the sheriff's deputy with a car. Lee was sentenced to two years for the incident.
September 2001: Lee arrested for battery against wife but charges later dismissed.
Following the release of Lee's vast criminal history, residents of Baton Rouge were shocked that he was never suspected in the Baton Rouge murders, especially when the focus was changed to a man of color in March of 2003. Moreover, the task force was heavily criticized because Lee had been overlooked after having been brought to their attention by the Zachary Police Department in 2002. The Zachary Police suspected Lee in the murder of forty-one-year old Connie Warner in 1992 and the disappearance of twenty-year old Randi Mebruer in 1998. Despite the mistakes made in the case, the task force was congratulated for their work in catching the killer.
After Lee had been taken into police custody, the police with the help of the FBI immediately were focusing on trying to locate his estranged wife Jacqueline and the couple's two children. It was hoped that Jacqueline might be able to provide clues into Lee's behavior and whereabouts during the crimes. Family members suspected she was hiding out of fear.
According to Ned Randolph, a reporter for the Baton Rouge news site 2theadvocate.com, family members of Jacqueline Denise Lee claimed that "she lived in denial of her husband's transgressions, which include stalking, peeping into windows and infidelity." According to Advocate writer Ned Randolph, Jacqueline's aunt claimed she was afraid of her husband and at one point against her wishes he had a mistress move into their home.
Initially, Jacqueline and the couple's two children could not be traced. Eventually in June 2003, the FBI located the three in Chicago. Investigators were interested in Jacqueline not only for questioning purposes but also because they needed her consent before they could begin digging up the property of her former residence.