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|
Derrick Todd Lee (born November 5, 1968) is a convicted serial killer, nicknamed the Baton Rouge Serial Killer. Lee was initially overlooked by authorities, because they believed the killer was of the white race.
He was linked by DNA to the deaths of seven women in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas in Louisiana, and in 2004 was convicted, in separate trials, of the murders of Geralyn DeSoto and Charlotte Murray Pace. The Pace trial resulted in a death sentence. 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 is awaiting execution in Louisiana.
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 publicized 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 the now defunct company DNAPrint Genomics to access 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.
The one known survivor Dianne Alexander
Derrick Todd Lee entered the St. Martin Parish home of Dianne Alexander on July 9, 2002. Derrick Todd Lee beat Alexander severely and attempted to rape her.
Dianne Alexander is the only known survivor of Derrick Todd Lee. Alexander survived because her son walked in during the commission of the crime, frightening Lee out of the back of the house. Alexander's son chased Lee through the back of the house and was able to get a description of the car. Alexander had detail as to what Lee looked like and on May 22, 2003, Alexander was able to describe Lee to a police sketch artist.
Between the DNA evidence gathered off of the deceased victims, the psychological profile made by Mary Ellen O'Toole, and the police sketch based on Alexander's description, the police went public with the information. Police in the nearby town of Zachary, LA recognized the man by a recent peeping tom incident they had just investigated. Police in Zachary, LA. called the police in Baton Rouge, LA. to let them know the name of the suspected perpetrator. Additionally, the Zachary Police Department also let the Baton Rouge Police Department know that they had a DNA sample from Lee due to a prior murder investigation from 6–8 months earlier. The DNA lab ran and compared the samples and they were a match to Derrick Todd Lee.
Due to Dianne Alexander's survival and description of Lee, it assisted investigators in Lee's arrest. Alexander felt she deserved the Lafayette Crime Stoppers Inc. public reward offering of $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of Lee. On or about August 14, 2003 Alexander contacted Lafayette Crime Stoppers Inc. and inquired about the offer. It was then that Lafayette Crime Stoppers Inc. informed Alexander that she was not eligible to receive the reward. On February 22, 2006 Alexander hired Attorney L. Clayton Burgess to pursue the case. Lafayette Crime Stoppers Inc. claimed that the reward offer expired on August 1, 2003 and that, although Alexander had gone to the police, she did not contact Lafayette Crime Stoppers Inc. before August 1, 2003. Furthermore, Lafayette Crime Stoppers Inc. claimed that she [Alexander] did not use the tipster hotline and, thereby did not comply with the "form, terms, or conditions" required by Lafayette Crime Stoppers Inc. The case was decided in Lafayette Crime Stoppers Inc.'s favor.
Dianne Alexander has written a book about her ordeal, Divine Justice.
Conviction of DeSoto murder
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.
Conviction of Pace murder
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 was portrayed in an episode of the docudrama series Obsession: Dark Desires, which aired in March 2014 and centered on his stalking of surviving victim Collette Dwyer whose tips to police about Todd weren't fully followed up.
The Crying Baby Kidnap Lure
In early 2003, an urban legend was started that Lee was using the taped sounds of a crying baby to lure victims to the door. However, it was just a rumor. As soon as the Baton Rouge Police started getting calls about the crying baby, they were quick to deny that the information was coming from their office. Fueling the rumor was the episode of Criminal Minds Season 3 episodes "Children of the Dark". and "Tabula Rasa". Lee is mentioned in both episodes of Criminal Minds, "Children of the Dark" and "Tabula Rasa". In "Children of the Dark", they specifically reference the crying baby myth. Snopes was able to get to the bottom of the Crying Baby Lure  myth and mark it as just an urban legend.
- Bell, Rachael. "Derrick Todd Lee, Baton Rouge Serial Killer". Crime Library. truTV. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit. Dianne ALEXANDER, et ux. v. LAFAYETTE CRIME STOPPERS, INC., et al., February 3, 2010
- "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.
- "Criminal Minds - Children of the Dark"
- "Criminal Minds - Tabula Rasa"
- "Snopes - Crying Baby Lure"
- "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)
- "Louisiana Serial Killer Derrick Todd Lee Loses State Supreme Court Appeal" September 21, 2015