Jeff Davis 8

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Jeff Davis 8
Details
Victims 8
Span of crimes
2005–2009
Country United States
State(s) Louisiana
Date apprehended
Never apprehended

The Jeff Davis 8, sometimes called the Jennings 8, refers to a series of unsolved murders in Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana.[1][2] Between 2005 and 2009, the bodies of eight women, all of whom had an involvement with drugs or prostitution, were found in swamps and canals surrounding Jennings, Louisiana.[2] Most of the bodies were found in such a state of decomposition as to make the actual cause of death difficult to determine.[1][2]

Author and investigative reporter Ethan Brown has revealed how police investigations have been plagued by missteps in the sheriff's office, contributing to lost or missing evidence.[2] Brown's work has revealed that there are multiple suspects in the Jeff Davis 8 case and that therefore it is unlikely that this is a serial killer case; furthermore, Brown has revealed that law enforcement's own witnesses have named members of local law enforcement as suspects in the case.[2]

After some speculation that the first season of the HBO series True Detective is based on the Jeff Davis 8 case,[2] creator Nic Pizzolatto claimed in a DVD Commentary that he had not heard of the specific case until after the episodes had aired.

Murders[edit]

Victims[edit]

The first victim, Loretta Lewis, 28, was found floating in a river by a fisherman on May 20, 2005.[3][4] Other victims included Ernestine Marie Daniels Patterson, 30; Kristen Gary Lopez, 21; Whitnei Dubois, 26; Laconia "Muggy" Brown, 23; Crystal Shay Benoit Zeno, 24; and Brittney Gary, 17.[4] The final body of Necole Guillory, 26, was found off Interstate 10 in 2009.[5]

Causes of death[edit]

Patterson and Brown had their throats slit; the other bodies were in too advanced state of decomposition to determine the cause of death, though asphyxia is a suspected cause of death.[2]

Connections[edit]

Brown's investigative work reveals many tangled connections between victims, suspects, and the police.[2][6] Most of the victims knew each other well.[3] Some were related by blood (such as cousins Kristen Gary Lopez and Brittney Gary) or lived together (Gary lived with Crystal Benoit shortly before her death).[2] The victims also shared in common traits such as poverty, mental illness, and histories of drug abuse and prostitution.[1][2]

The women all also served as informants for the police about the local drug trade and often provided police with information about other Jeff Davis 8 victims before their own deaths.[2]

Kristen Lopez, one of the victims, was present when police shot and killed a drug dealer named Leonard Crochet in 2005 along with several individuals connected to the Jeff Davis 8 case, including Alvin "Bootsy" Lewis, who fathered a child with victim Whitnei Dubois and is also the brother in law of the first victim, Loretta Chaisson Lewis.[2] A grand jury investigated the shooting and determined there was no probable cause for a charge of negligent homicide against police even though a Louisiana State Police investigation into the Crochet shooting concluded that he was unarmed when he was shot to death by law enforcement.[2] However, witnesses told investigators they believed the police had killed many of the victims because of what they knew about the shooting of Leonard Crochet.[2]

Investigation[edit]

In December 2008, a task force consisting of 14 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies was formed to solve the killings.[4][5] From the outset, the task force was searching for a serial killer.[1] However, Brown's recent investigative work exposing connections between victims, suspects, and the police casts doubt on the theory that the Jeff Davis 8 is the work of a serial killer.[4][6] Family members of the victims suspect the police are actually responsible for the deaths.[4]

Allegations of misconduct[edit]

Task force investigative reports reveal a series of witness interviews in which local law enforcement were implicated in the murders.[2] Statements from two female inmates portrayed suspects working with the sheriff's office to dispose of evidence in the Lopez case.[2] However, the sergeant who took the statements was forced out of his job, and the allegations were ignored by law enforcement.[2]

Sheriff's office chief criminal investigator, Warren Gary, was also accused of purchasing a truck suspected of being used to transport a body for the purpose of discarding evidence.[4][7]

In 2009, the sheriff ordered that every investigator working the Jeff Davis 8 case be swabbed for DNA in response to the accusations against investigators.[2] However, the office refuses to comment on the results of the DNA testing.[2]

Suspects[edit]

Police have arrested or issued warrants for the arrest of four people in connection with the case.[1] Two people were held on murder charges for months before being released due to issues with evidence.[1]

Frankie Richard, a local strip club owner and suspected drug dealer[1][2] admitted to being a crack addict and to having sex with most of the victims.[1] He was among last person seen with one of the victims, Kristen G. Lopez.[1] Law enforcement's own witnesses have connected Richard to the Sheriff's Office.[3] The two female inmates who stated the Sheriff's Office disposed of evidence in the Lopez case alleged that the evidence was discarded at the behest of Richard.[2]

Byron Chad Jones and Lawrence Nixon (a cousin of the fifth victim, Laconia Brown) were briefly charged with second-degree murder in the Ernestine Patterson case.[2] However, the sheriff's office did not test the alleged crime scene until 15 months after Patterson's murder, and found it "failed to demonstrate the presence of blood."[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Robertson, Campbell. "8 Deaths in a Small Town, and Much Unease". New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Brown, Ethan. "Who Killed the Jeff Davis 8?". Medium. [self-published source]
  3. ^ a b c Crosley, Hillary. "In Louisiana, 8 Women Were Murdered and Cops May Be Their Killers". Jezebel. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Perlstein, Mike. "Jennings 8: Unsolved murders haunt town, police". WWLTV. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. 
  5. ^ a b Schmidt, Theresa. "Jeff Davis 8: Why A.G. Buddy Caldwell doesn't intervene". KPLCtv. 
  6. ^ a b Wolcott, James. "The Jung and the Restless". Vanity Fair. 
  7. ^ "In the matter of Warren Gary". Louisiana Board of Ethics. Archived from the original on 2014-03-01.