Derrick Todd Lee
|Derrick Todd Lee|
November 5, 1968 |
St. Francisville, Louisiana
|Other names||The Baton Rouge Serial Killer|
Span of killings
|August 23, 1992–March 3, 2003|
|May 27, 2003|
He was linked racially by DNA to the deaths of seven women in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas in Louisiana, and in 2004 was convicted of the murders of Geralyn DeSoto and Charlotte Murray Pace. Newspapers have suggested Lee can be linked to other unsolved murders in the area, but the police lacked DNA evidence to prove these connections. After Lee's arrest, it was discovered that another serial killer, Sean Vincent Gillis, was operating in the Baton Rouge area during the same time as Lee.
Lee's methods varied with nearly each murder. Similarities between the crimes included the removal of cell phones from the victim's belongings, and a lack of any visible signs of forced entry into the location where the victim was attacked. Most of the murders were committed in the area around Louisiana State University (LSU). Two of the victims' bodies were discovered at the Whiskey Bay boat launch, approximately 30 miles west of Baton Rouge, just off Interstate 10.
Because the majority of known serial killers are white, and based on erroneous eyewitness accounts, police originally believed the killer to be white. Police therefore administered thousands of DNA tests to Caucasian men in and around the general area of the murders. Having no leads, police then allowed DNAPrint Genomics access to DNA left at the crime scenes. DNAPrint Genomics generated an ancestry profile indicating that the suspect was 85% African, thus changing the course of the investigation: Police now knew they were searching for a black man for the January 2002 slaying of Geralyn Barr DeSoto. More specific analysis of the DNA evidence found under the fingernails of DeSoto linked Lee to the 21-year-old Addis, Louisiana woman’s death.
Once Lee was identified as the primary suspect in these crimes, law enforcement located and captured him in Atlanta, Georgia. Lee waived extradition and was returned to Baton Rouge, where he was tried in August 2004 for the murder of Geralyn DeSoto. Desoto had been found dead in her home in Addis, stabbed numerous times.
DeSoto's husband had initially been the primary suspect in her murder, but as the investigation progressed, DNA evidence linking Lee to the crime had been discovered. Although Lee was eligible for first degree murder charges, the District Attorney elected to try Lee for murder in the second degree because DeSoto had not been sexually assaulted, which meant a first-degree murder conviction would be harder to obtain. Lee was convicted by jury and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
There was some argument that Derrick Lee was perhaps incompetent to stand trial; during psychiatric evaluations he scored an average of 65 on various standardized I.Q. tests, and a score below 69 is considered to be the threshold for what can be considered mental retardation. Lee was, however, deemed fit to stand trial.
Lee was convicted on October 14, 2004, for the May 31, 2002 rape and murder of LSU graduate student Charlotte Murray Pace. He was sentenced to die by lethal injection. On January 16, 2008, the state Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction and death sentence. Lee is currently on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.
Todd is due to be portrayed in an episode of docudrama series Obsession: Dark Desires airing in March 2014, centred around his stalking of surviving victim Collette Dwyer whose tips to police about Todd weren't fully followed up.
- Bell, Rachael. "Derrick Todd Lee, Baton Rouge Serial Killer". Crime Library. truTV. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "Review of death sentence for Derrick Todd Lee refused", Associated Press, March 8, 2008[dead link]
- "Execution Date Pending For Baton Rouge Serial Killer Derrick Todd Lee", BayouBuzz, June 29, 2009[dead link]
- "Obsession: Dark Desires". Crime and Investigation Network. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
- "Tipster claims her leads about serial killer suspect were ignored". Capitol Watch. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
- "Hunting a Killer: Did racial profiling slow the search for a Louisiana serial murderer?" Newsweek. May 31, 2003. (subscription required)
- "DNA Dragnet", CBSnews.com (multimedia presentation)