Paul Durousseau, the Jacksonville Serial Killer
Paul Durousseau was born on August 11, 1970 in Beaumont, Texas and moved around frequently throughout his life. To date, little is known about his childhood. What is known is that Paul had a checkered history including, an extensive police record dating back to 1991.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Paul's first known arrests took place in December 1991 and January 1992 for two separate counts of concealment of firearms in California. Paul then enlisted into the United States Army and was temporarily stationed in Germany. While there he met a twenty-one-year old service woman at a nightclub. The two fell in love and married in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1995.
The two were then transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia. It was there that Paul's legal problems began to re-emerge. He was arrested and later acquitted on charges of the 1997 kidnapping and rape of a young woman. One month following his acquittal, a young woman, Tracy Habersham, was found dead, but for some reason, Paul was not a suspect in the crime. According to Ron Word, Paul was found in possession of stolen goods, which led to a court-martial hearing and his being discharged early from the army.
Paul's legal issues put a tremendous strain on his marriage. Following his dishonorable discharge, Paul found it increasingly difficult to find a job. He worked at a series of temporary positions. Yet, it remained difficult for the couple to make ends meet.
1997 was an eventful year for the struggling couple. They relocated to his wife's hometown of Jacksonville, where they moved into an apartment on Moncrief Road. Soon after they welcomed the birth of a new baby girl into the family, which was quickly followed by the birth of another little girl approximately one year later.
Interviews with friends and neighbors of the couple suggested that they continued to experience tremendous marital strain during the late 1990's. According to an article by Dana Treen, Paul was described by acquaintances as a " lewd womanizer" who often fought with his wife over financial problems, his inability to maintain a job and his adulterous behavior. The article stated that Paul frequently made sexually suggestive comments to area women and attempted to seduce young girls in the neighborhood.
On occasion, the couple's marital spats would escalate to the point of physical violence. The Times-Union wrote:
"in August 1999, police told Durousseau's wife, how to seek a domestic violence restraining order after she told them she was slapped and that her husband tried to grab her around the neck in a fight over finances.
"The first time she petitioned for protection came a year later, when Durousseau "became violently angry when I told him that I was planning to file for a divorce," she wrote.
"The violence was ongoing, she wrote in the 2000 petition, and "I am afraid it will escalate," she said.
The injunction was never granted because Paul and his wife came to an agreement to drop the petition. In fact, the problems had already begun to escalate. A month earlier, Paul had been arrested for trespassing on private property.
Then in March 2001 Paul physically assaulted his wife once again. He put his hands around her neck and threatened to kill her. Another injunction was sought.
Friends felt sorry for his wife, who was a very nice person who both worked and went to school.
According to the Paul Durousseau Timeline provided by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the State Attorney's Office, Paul was then arrested and sentenced to one month in jail and two years' probation for the June 2001 rape of a Jacksonville woman. He was then arrested again for physically abusing his wife in August 2001, for which he spent another month and a half behind bars. Paul's criminal files expanded even more following his arrest in April 2002 for burglary, although he was later acquitted of the charge.
By many accounts Paul had a lengthy police record. However, despite the fact that he was a convicted felon, Paul had no difficulty finding temporary work. In August 2001 he worked for several weeks as a school bus driver, as well as in other temporary positions such as an animal control worker. In January 2003 he also worked for Gator City Taxi, a local Jacksonville cab company.
During his job as a cab driver it was believed that Paul became acquainted with many women, including murder victims Cohen and Jefferson. At the time of their murders, Paul was already a leading suspect in the investigation due to his outstanding police record and clues linking him to some of the victims. One important clue came from Jovanna's mother.
According to a First Coast News article dated June 18, 2003, Jovanna was last seen getting into a cab driven by a man referred to as "D". When Jovanna failed to return home, her aunt called her cell phone, which was answered by the cab driver. The man told the aunt that he would return Jovanna soon, yet she never made it back home.
Worried for her daughter, Jovanna's mother went to the cab company to inquire about the man named "D" who had driven her daughter prior to her
disappearance. They quickly learned that the driver was Paul Durousseau. The clue was an important lead, however according to Jacksonville Sheriff Nat Glover there was not enough evidence yet available to charge him.
At around the same time, the strains of an unhappy relationship had already taken their toll on the couple. After approximately eight and a half years of marriage, Paul and his wife separated in January 2003. She and the couple's two girls moved to another house in Jacksonville. According to Dana Treen, Paul continued to live at what was once the family's house on Patterson Avenue. However, he spent the majority of his available time at his wife's new house.
On February 6, 2003 during one of his visits to his wife and children, police arrested Paul. Initially he was not charged in any of the murders, although he was considered a key suspect. Instead he was arrested for violation of his probation for the 2001 rape case. While incarcerated in the Duval County Jail, investigators continued to accumulate evidence linking Paul to the murders. It didn't take long for them to hit "pay dirt".