Jefferson Davis Sheriff Ricky Edwards said that the reason his department has not used the term ‘serial murderer’ until now is that “it does not benefit us in our goals to identify and apprehend the offender, nor does it prevent further loss of life.”
In May 2005, a man discovered the body of Loretta Chaisson Lewis floating in a canal. Since the Lewis murder, the bodies of Ernestine Daniels Patterson, Kristen Gary Lopez, Whitnei Dubois, Laconia “Muggy” Brown, Crystal Shay Benoit Zeno, Brittney Gary and Necole Guillory all have turned up in canals or rural roadways.
Until recently, all the victims had been found in Jeff Davis parish. However, that changed on August 9 of this year when the Guillory’s body was found near the Egan exit in Acadia parish. She was discovered partially unclothed and had been strangled or suffocated according to the Coroner’s report.
All the women were commonly associated either through their personal relationships or lifestyles. They ranged in age from 17 to 29.
In December 2008, the Jeff Davis Sheriff’s Office formed the investigative team which included members from local, state and federal agencies. They have followed nearly 1,000 leads and worked more than 48,000 hours since they began working together. They have also interviewed 500 people and fielded thousands of telephone calls. Some of the data that has been gathered has led to progress on other cases.
According to Edwards, investigators have considered a number of people to be suspects or ‘persons of interest’ but until they are focused exclusively on a particular suspect they will continue to consider other people.
Also present at the press conference were Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Nick Mancuso and Special Agent David Welker of the FBI’s New Orleans office.
“The FBI has applied all appropriate resources to this investigation and will continue to support the investigation and the investigative team until the investigation is concluded,” said Welker.
Mancuso, who has assisted the investigation since the beginning, asked the public to come forth with any information that would assist in the investigation.
“It’s going to take public involvement, not just the police, to feed the information to us properly so that this can be concluded and this killer be brought to justice,” said Mancuso.