Childhood YearsDerrick Todd Lee was born on November 5, 1968 in St. Francisville, Louisiana to Samuel Ruth and Florence Lee. Samuel Ruth left Florence soon after Derrick was born. For Florence and the children, having Ruth out of the picture was good. He suffered from mental illness and eventually ended up in a mental institution after being charged with attempted murder of his ex-wife.
Florence later married Coleman Barrow who was a responsible man that raised Derrick and his sisters as if they were his own children. Together they taught their children the importance of an education and to follow the teachings of the Bible.
Lee grew up like many children in small towns around south Louisiana. His neighbors and play pals were mostly from his extended family.
His interest in school was limited to playing in the school band. Academically Lee struggled, often being out shined by his younger sister who was a year younger than him, but advanced in school faster. His IQ, ranging from below 70 to 75, made it challenging for him to maintain his grades.
By the time Lee turned 11 he had been caught peeping into the windows of girls in his neighborhood, something he continued to do as an adult. He also had a liking for torturing dogs and cats.
Teenage YearsAt the age of 13 Lee was arrested for simple burglary. He was already known to the local police because of his voyeurism, but it wasn't until he was 16 that his anger issues got him in real trouble. He pulled a knife on a boy during a fight. Charged with attempted second-degree murder, Lee's rap sheet was slowing beginning to fill up.
At age 17 Lee was arrested for being a Peeping Tom, but even though he was a high school drop out with multiple complaints and arrests, he managed to stay out of going to a juvenile detention home.
MarriageIn 1988 Lee met and married Jacqueline Denise Sims and the couple had two children, a boy named after his father Derrick Todd Lee, Jr. and in 1992 a girl, Dorris Lee. Soon after their marriage Lee pled guilty to unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling.
Over the next few years he drifted in and out of two worlds. In one world, he was the responsible father who worked hard at his construction job and took his family on weekend outings. In the other world, he cruised the local bars, dressed in dapper attire and spent time drinking and having extra marital affairs with women.
Jacqueline knew about his infidelity, but she was devoted to Lee. She also became used to him being arrested. The times he spent in prison became almost as a welcomed relief compared to the volatile atmosphere he created when he was at home.
Money Creates More ProblemsIn 1996 Jacqueline's father was killed in a plant explosion and she was awarded a quarter of a million dollars. With the financial boost Lee was now able to dress better, buy cars and spend more money on his girlfriend Casandra Green. But as quickly as the money came, it was spent and by 1999 Lee was back to living off of his earned wages except now he had another mouth to feed. Casandra had given birth to their son who they named Dedrick Lee in July of the same year.
Collette WalkerIn June 1999, Collette Walker, 36, of St. Francisville, La., filed stalking charges against Lee after he muscled his way into her apartment, trying to convince her that the two should date. She did not know him and managed to ease him out of her apartment. He left her with his phone number and suggested that she give him a call.
Days later a friend who lived close to Collette asked her about Lee who she had seen lurking around her apartment. On another occasion Collette caught him peeping into her window and called police.
Even with his history of being a Peeping Tom and various other arrests, Lee did very little time for the charges of stalking and unlawful entry. In a plea bargain Lee pled guilty and received probation. Against the directions of the court he again went looking for Collette, but smartly she had moved.
A Lost OpportunityLife was becoming stressful for Lee. The money was gone and finances were tight. He was arguing with Casandra a lot and in February 2000 the fighting escalated to violence and she started the proceedings to get a protective order prohibiting Lee from getting near her. Three days later he caught up with her in a bar parking lot and beat her up.
Casandra pressed charges and his probation was revoked. He spent the following year in prison until his release in February 2001. He was placed on house arrest and was required to wear monitoring equipment.
In May he was found guilty of violating the terms of his parole by removing the equipment and instead of having his probation revoked, he was given a legal slap on the hand and not returned to prison. Once again the opportunity to remove Derrick Todd Lee from society was lost, a decision that likely haunts those who made it.
Third Side of Derrick Todd LeeWhen Derrick Todd Lee committed his first or last rape and murder of an unsuspecting woman is unknown. What is known is that in 1993 he allegedly attacked two teens who were necking in a parked car. Equipped with a six foot harvesting tool, he was accused of hacking away at the couple, only stopping and fleeing as another car approached.
The couple survived and six years later, the girl, Michelle Chapman, picked Lee out of a line-up as her attacker.
Lee's raping and killing spree would last another 10 years, with DNA evidence eventually linking him to seven victims who suffered from his vicious attacks.
Victims of Derrick Todd LeeApril 2, 1993 - A teenaged couple were parked in an isolated area when they were attacked by a large man who hacked at them with a six foot harvesting tool. Both survived and the girl, Michelle Chapman, identified Derrick Todd Lee as the attacker in a police line-up in 1998.
Other victims include:
- April 18, 1998 - Randi Merrier 28
- September 24, 2001 - Gina Wilson Green, 41
- January 14, 2002 - Geralyn DeSoto, 21
- May 31, 2002 - Charlotte Murray Pace, 21
- July 9, 2002 - Diane Alexander
- July 12, 2002 - Pamela Kinamore, 44
- November 21, 2002 - Dene Colomb, 23
- March 3, 2003 - Carrie Lynn Yoder
Possible VictimsAugust 23 1992 - Connie Warner of Zachary, LA. was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Her body was found on Sept. 2, near the Capital Lakes in Baton Rouge, La. So far no evidence has linked Lee to her murder.
June 13, 1997 - Eugenie Boisfontaine lived on Stanford Ave., near the Louisiana State University campus when she was murdered. Her body was discovered nine months later under a tire along the edge of Bayou Manchac. There has been no evidence linking Lee to the murder.
Too Many Murders and Serial KillersInvestigations into the several unsolved murder cases of women in Baton Rouge was going nowhere. There are many reasons why Derrick Todd Lee, who is somewhat mentally challenged, managed to avoid getting caught. Here are just a few:
- Derrick Todd Lee stayed on the move. In the 10 years that it is known that he was raping and killing women, he was also constantly changing jobs, moving to different cities in south Louisiana and doing time in and out of prison. It was not until he focused on areas around LSU and left the bodies of two of his victims at a boat launch at Whiskey Bay that investigators moved from solving murders to looking for a serial killer.
- Communications among detectives from one city to another was rare and Lee jumped from one parish to another to strike and kill.
- From 1991 to 2001 there were 53 unsolved murders of women in Baton Rouge. The women came from all different backgrounds and ethnicities, as did the way that they died. The city was on high alert and the government was on the hot seat.
- In August 2002 the Baton Rouge area Multi-Agency Task Force was formed and communications between parish detectives broadened. But instead of catching a killer, the task force ended up having more murders to solve - a lot more murders.
Racial ProfilingWhen it came to discovering and capturing Derrick Todd Lee, serial killer profiling did not work.
- He was black and most serial killers are white males.
- Most serial killers pick victims of their own race. Lee killed both black and white women.
- Most serial killers use the method of killing like a signature so that they receive credit for the kill. Lee used different methods.
In 2002 a composite sketch of the suspected serial killer was released to the public. The picture was of a white male with a long nose, long face and long hair. As soon as the picture was released the task force became inundated with phone calls and the investigation became bogged down on following up on tips.
It was not until May 23, 2003, the Baton Rouge area Multi-Agency Task Force released a sketch of a man wanted for questioning about attacks on woman in St. Martin Parish. He was described as a clean-cut, light-skinned black male with short brown hair and brown eyes. It was said that he was probably in his late 20s or early 30s. Finally the investigation was on track.
Around the same time as the new sketch was released, DNA was being collected in parishes where there were unsolved murders of women. At the time Lee was living in West Feliciana Parish and was asked to give a swab. Not only did his criminal history interest investigators, but so did his appearance which resembled the newly distributed composite sketch.
Investigators asked for a rush job on Lee's DNA and within a few weeks they had their answer. Lee's DNA matched samples taken from Yoder, Green, Pace, Kinamore and Colomb.
Lee and his family fled Louisiana on the same day that he volunteered his DNA. He was caught in Atlanta and returned to Louisiana a day after his arrest warrant was issued.
In August 2004 he was found guilty of murder in the second degree of Geralyn DeSoto and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
In October 2004 Lee was found guilty of the rape and murder of Charlotte Murray Pace and was sentenced to death by lethal injection.
In 2008, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld his conviction and the sentence of death.
Lee is currently awaiting execution on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana.