The Imperceptible Phenomenon of Black Sexual Serial Killers

By

Vernon J. Geberth, M.S., M.P.S

Copyright © 2012

 

See Data Spreadsheet

 

NOTE

 

The term Black instead of African-American is used because not all persons who are Black are African-American.  Also in Law Enforcement as well as in clinical studies we use the terms White, Black, Hispanic Asian and Native American as descriptors for clarity.

 

Abstract

 

There exists a myth that there are hardly any Black serial killers and/or that Black serial killers are a rarity. This perception most likely is based on the media coverage on Television and/or the Hollywood movies like Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal which exclusively focused on White serial killers. The impression that serial killers are usually white is further solidified based upon the research that had been done by the FBI’s Behavioral Science unit that examined 36 convicted serial murderers 90% of whom were white.  In fact, most FBI profiles describe the unknown serial murderers as UNSUB, white Male within age ranges from 20 to 40 years of age. Statistically speaking, most serial murderers in the United States are predominantly white but current research indicates that the overall percentage of Black serial killers has almost doubled since the 1980’s with a significant increase during the last 20 years. This article will address the perception and reality of sexual serial murder based upon an historical analysis of sexual serial killings committed by 155 Black serial offenders, who represent 37.2% of all sexual serial murders in the U.S. as of April, 2012. 

 

Keywords: homicide investigation, serial murder, signature, modus operandi, linkage blindness,

sexual assault, rape, sodomy

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Serial killers can be White, Black, Hispanic, Asian and/or Native American.  In fact, serial killers can be from any ethnic grouping.  Serial killers can come from all races, cultures, nationalities, educational level, economic level, gender and sexual orientation.  Statistically speaking, most serial murderers in the United States are predominantly white.  However, there has been an increase in male Black serial killers, most of whom had a history of rape and/or other sexual assault, who kill to prevent identification. (Geberth, 2010) (1)

The media has either ignored Black sexual serial killers or opted not to focus on the race of the serial killer due to some illogical interpretation of political correctness.  Only recently has the media reported on Black sexual serial killers with the arrest and conviction of Anthony Sowell, “The Cleveland Strangler”, who had killed 11 women between 2005 and 2009 and more recently the arrest of “The Grim Sleeper” in Los Angeles who killed 10 women between1985 and 2007.  Lonnie David Franklin, Jr. a Black Male was finally identified after all these years through a Familial DNA Analysis.   Franklin’s DNA matched the forensic evidence from all of the crime scenes.

 

The Perception

The obsessive media attention on some of the infamous serial killers such as Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, William Bonin (The Freeway Killers) Kenneth Bianci and Angelo Bouno (The Hillside Stranglers), David Berkowitz (The Son of Sam), Richard Ramirez (The Night Stalker), Gary Ridgeway (The Green River Murders), Dennis Rader, (The BTK Killer) and Jeffrey Dahmer created the perception that all serial killers are White males.

In fact, most of the FBI profiles for serial murder described the unknown serial murderers with the term UNSUB and that the offender would be a White male, 20 to 30 or 25 to 35 or 20 to 40 years of age who resided in the area.  Furthermore, the FBI research concluded that serial murders were committed intra-racially (within the same race) as opposed to interracially.

When the Atlanta Child Killings of 1979 into 1981 were initially recognized as a pattern it was suggested that the offender would be a White male based upon the research that had been done by the FBI’s Behavioral Science unit that examined thirty-six convicted incarcerated sexual murderers.  It wasn’t until The FBI Behavioral Science Unit agents went to the area where these killings occurred in Atlanta that they realized a white male couldn’t have perpetrated these murders in such a predominantly Black area. (Michaud & Hazelwood, 1998). (2)

The arrest of Wayne Williams, as a Black serial killer, was considered an anomaly. The media covered this event as though there had never been any Black serial killers prior to 1980.   Yet this paper identified 29 Black sexual serial killers, which included Wayne Williams prior to 1981.

However, even after the Wayne Williams case the standard FBI profiles still focused on the UNSUB, White male and that serial offenders usually target victims within their own race. 

 

The Law Enforcement Perception

Investigatively speaking, the general public and possibly even some folks in law enforcement and criminal justice community are under the false perception that Black sexual serial killers are a rarity.  The consequences of this mindset are that it makes it easier for Black serial murderers to go undetected for a longer period of time.  In addition, an agency may find themselves the subject to a wrongful death investigation based upon law enforcement error in not linking a case to a Black serial killer in time which resulted in the death of an additional victim due to linkage blindness.

This resulted in linkage blindness (Geberth, 2006) (3) and a major embarrassment for the law enforcement authorities in the Timothy Wilson Spencer case in Virginia, George Waterfield Russell case in Washington State, and Derrick Todd Lee in Louisiana.   The FBI profile in these three cases described the offenders as an UNSUB   White Male 20 to 30 who resided in the area. Spencer, Russell and Lee were Black. 

Furthermore, all of the victims in these cases were white females, which did not correspond with the theory that serial murderers killed their victims intra-racially (within the same race) as opposed to interracially.  The following case histories illustrate this dilemma.

 

Case History

Timothy Spencer, a Black, Male was linked by DNA to five sex-related serial murders in Virginia in 1987.  Timothy Wilson Spencer was a “Cat” Burglar and rapist, who would select and stalk his victims waiting until they were alone. He entered their homes while they were asleep and then sexually attacked and killed them to prevent identification.  He killed in three different jurisdictions to avoid detection. (Geberth, 2006) (4) (Mones, 1995) (5) (Case File)(6)

The first victim was Carolyn Jean Hamm, 32-years-old, who lived by herself in a house in Arlington, Virginia.  However, Spencer was not linked to this case until after his arrest as a serial killer in 1987 when his DNA matched the evidence from Carolyn Hamm.

On January 25, 1984, the body of Carolyn Jean Hamm was discovered in the basement of her home when co-workers became concerned about her absence.  She had been raped, sodomized and strangled to death with a piece of Venetian blind cord.  The F.B.I.’s Behavioral Science Unit surmised that the killer was a White male in his late twenties to early thirties who resided in the area.

The senior profilers pointed out that on one hand the killer’s actions were immature. But on the other hand they stated that the bindings and control elements were a sign of maturity.  According to the profilers this indicated two different personalities or two people involved in murder.  On February 6, 1984 police announced the arrest of David Vasquez, who matched the F.B.I. profile of the killer.  Pubic hair found at the scene matched Vasquez but the blood type did not suggesting two persons.

David Vasquez’s attorney realizing that his client who was identified in the FBI Profile, would face the Death Penalty decided to plea him out.   David Vasquez was sent to State Prison as a convicted murderer.

On September 19, 1987 at 9:45 A.M., thirty-five year-old Debbie Dudley Davis was found dead in the bedroom of her first floor apartment in The Westover Hills District of Richmond, Virginia by her husband, who had returned from a business trip. The woman had been strangled to death with a sock, which had been tightened around her neck with a pipe from a vacuum cleaner and there was evidence of sexual activity at the scene. Biological fluid was recovered from the body and bedding in the crime scene and submitted to Lifecodes Corporation for DNA analysis. Richmond detectives determined that the victim’s apartment had been entered through an open rear window, where a screen had been cut to allow the window to be raised to allow the offender access to the apartment.

On October 3, 1987, two weeks later, a thirty-two year Susan Elizabeth Hellams, a medical doctor in Residence at Medical College of Virginia was found dead in her apartment in the Westover Hills District of Richmond, Virginia by her husband.  Her husband, who was also a doctor in Residence, discovered his wife’s naked body in a bedroom closet in their second floor apartment at approximately 2:00 A.M. when he returned from work.  She also had raped, sodomized and strangled to death with a belt, which had been tightened around her neck. Biological fluid was recovered from the body and the woman’s slip as well as the crime scene and submitted to Lifecodes Corporation for DNA analysis. Richmond detectives determined that the victim’s apartment had been entered through a second story window where a screen had been cut out.

Richmond authorities immediately linked these two cases based on the similar “Modus Operandi” as well as the “Signature” components.  The Modus Operandi suggested a stalker who knew that both victims were alone in their homes at the time of their assault.  The fact that both victims lived with a male, who was absent at the time of the assault further supported the stalker theory.  Both crimes occurred with a one mile radius and both victims were strangled with ligature. The “Signature” component was in the presentation of the victims in the scene.  Both victims were nude and bound with their hands behind their backs in similar fashion and the killer left the ligatures intact.

This linkage was solidified through the DNA analysis from Lifecodes Corporation, which revealed that the rape-murders of Debbie Dudley Davis and Susan Elizabeth Hellums were a positive match.  A serial killer was now biologically and molecularly identified and linked to these two murders cases.

The F.B.I.’s Behavioral Science Unit was requested to analyze the two Richmond cases for authorities.  Their opinion of the case was that the murders were committed by a White, male twenties to thirties, who resided in the area.  This was further affirmed by their forensic psychiatrist, who acted as a consultant to the F.B.I. He was quoted in the Richmond News Leader as stating that the offender wouldn’t be Black.  These profiles were based on the logical probabilities that most serial killers statistically were White and that their crimes were intra-racially oriented.

The Richmond police concentrated their investigation on White suspects resulting in Linkage Blindness.

 

Linkage Blindness

Linkage blindness is defined as an investigative failure to recognize a pattern which “links” one crime with another crime in a series of cases through victimology, geographic region or area of events, the “signature” of the offender, similar M.O., and a review of autopsy protocols. (Geberth, 2006) (7)

On November 1, 1987, a thirty-two year old female victim, who lived in the Westover Hills District of Richmond Virginia, was awakened in her bed at 3:00 A.M. by a Black Male, who was armed with a knife.  The suspect was wearing a ski mask and gloves.  He bound her with rope, which he had brought to the scene and made her drink half a bottle of Southern Comfort.

He then engaged in a three-hour nightmare of sexual assault and torture, which included repeated rapes, forced oral sex and brutal penetration with a vibrating dildo, which he had brought with him to the scene. He also had attempted anal sex with his victim. The victim was saved when upstairs neighbors heard her sobs.  The killer then fled from the scene. 

The case was handled as a rape investigation by Richmond authorities, who did not link this event to the other two cases because in this case the offender was described as Black. The FBI Profiles for Davis and Hellums indicated that the UNSUB was a White Male. 

On November 22, 1987 fifteen-year old Diane Cho was found dead in her parent's home in Chesterfield County, which is just south of Richmond city limits. The killer had entered her bedroom through a window as the family was asleep.  The victim had been strangled and her hands were tied behind her back.  She had been raped, sodomized, and strangled to death with ligature.   Biological fluid was recovered from the girl’s body and the crime scene.  There was only a limited amount of genetic material recovered so the evidence was processed using DNA Amplification.  This DNA was eventually matched to the Richmond cases.

Nine days later and over one hundred miles away in Northern Virginia another rape homicide was being investigated by the Arlington County Police.

On December 1, 1987 a forty-four year old Susan Tucker was found dead on her bed on the second floor of her two-story home in Arlington County in Northern Virginia in the early evening hours.  Her husband, who was in Europe on a business trip, could not reach his wife by phone.  He called The Arlington County Police Department to request that an officer be dispatched to “Check-on-the Welfare” of his wife.   Investigation revealed that she had been killed a few days earlier.  Evidence revealed that she had been raped, sodomized and strangled to death.  Detectives recovered biological fluids on a sleeping bag and from a nightgown beneath the victim’s body.  The Offender had entered the victim’s home through a basement window below the patio.

Detective Joseph Horgas from the Arlington County Police Department was assigned the investigation.  He was intrigued by the presentation of the bound body in the crime scene and the manner in which the victim’s pocketbook had been dumped.  These similarities reminded him of the circumstances of the Carolyn Jean Hamm homicide case of 1984 where he had assisted other detectives in their investigation.  A suspect had been arrested in that case and was currently in prison.  However, Detective Horgas remembered that the F.B.I. profile in that case had suggested that there could have been two persons involved.  There certainly were similarities in this case to that of the 1984 case. 

However, before he could even begin to evaluate these similarities, a Regional Broadcast was issued on December 8, 1987 by the Richmond Bureau of Police alerting law enforcement agencies to a series of murders, which had occurred in the City of Richmond.  The Broadcast described the murders of Debbie Dudley Davis on September 18th and Dr. Susan Elizabeth Hellams on October 3rd It announced the method of entry in both cases and indicated that the victims had been strangled.  “Any departments with a similar case please contact the Richmond Bureau of Police.”

When Detective Horgas contacted the Richmond Bureau of Police investigators to discuss the similarities between their cases and the Arlington murder, they did not believe that the cases were connected due to the geographic distance involved.  Richmond detectives basically discouraged Horgas from pursuing any connection.  However, Detective Horgas did travel to Richmond to review their cases and still felt that there was a connection to his case.

Detective Horgas returned to Arlington to review the 1984 case as well as determine whether or not there were any similar incidents that could be linked to his investigation.  While reviewing previous sex-related cases that had occurred within Arlington County, he discovered a “Rape-Pattern” that involved a series of home invasions that occurred from June, 1983 to January 1984. Joe Horgas inquiry revealed that there had been nine women who had been raped and sodomized by a Black male.  The offender would wear a ski-mask and was armed with a knife.  The suspect usually dumped cash from his victim’s pocketbooks, which he left at the scene and the sexual assaults escalated with the subject engaging in repeated sexual acts including oral and anal sex. 

The “Signature” component of the rape pattern matched the homicide of Susan Tucker.

All of the victims had been left nude and bound with their hands tied behind their backs in similar fashion.  There was symmetry to the bindings and slip knots that the offender used.

The offender used the ligature as a tourniquet to control his victims and spent an inordinate amount of time with his victims as he engaged in sadistic torture. The victims had been vaginally and anally raped and the offender had masturbated on them.  A comparison of the autopsy findings from the murder case with medical reports indicated the use of an object or brutal force caused ripping or tearing.  The offender also used Vaseline and/or petroleum jelly during the anal assaults as well as dildos and ropes, all of which he brought to the scene.

Detective Joseph Horgas then remembered Timothy Wilson Spencer, a sex offender and burglar who was active in the same area as the rape pattern.  A check with records indicated that Spender had been convicted of Burglary on January 29, 1984. 

Interestingly, the rape pattern suddenly ended in January, 1984. Spencer had been apprehended by police as he waited in a woman’s apartment with his rape-kit. He was charged with Burglary and Attempted Rape.  Spencer pled Guilty to Burglary to cover the indictment and received a lighter sentence of Three years.  Horgas then ascertained that Spender had been released to a half-way house in Richmond, Virginia in September, 1987. 

The series of rapes and killings in Richmond, Virginia by the unknown killer, named the “The South Side Strangler,” began in September, 1987.

As Horgas checked the background on Timothy Spencer he learned that Spencer had been granted a six day Furlough for Thanksgiving, which allowed him to travel from Richmond to Arlington County Virginia.  This information placed the suspect in Arlington at the same time as the Rape-Murder of Susan Tucker.

Detective Horgas went to the District Attorney’s Office and requested assistance in putting a case together on Timothy Spencer.  The District Attorney initiated a Grand Jury and had Horgas present his findings and evidence to the jury.  Horgas’ investigation linked Spencer to the murder of Susan Tucker and the Rapes Pattern in Arlington and established a case.

An Arrest Warrant for Spencer and a Non-Testimonial Warrant was issued to secure Spencer’s Blood for DNA Analysis.  On January 20, 1988, Joe Horgas arrested Timothy Spencer in Richmond, Virginia after securing Grand Jury warrants.  Horgas arrested Spencer at his half-way house in Richmond, Virginia pursuant to warrant and Spencer’s blood samples were taken for DNA comparison. 

Timothy Spencer was charged with the Rape Murder of Susan Tucker and convicted in 1988.   The Series of Rapes – From 1983 to 1984 were linked to Spencer through Lifecodes DNA Analysis.  Eventually, all of the samples from the homicides and rapes were matched to Spencer by Lifecodes and the Serial Murder Cases Unfolded.  Timothy Spencer was charged with two Richmond murders and The Chesterfield County murder. 

The Horgas investigation also indicated that The 1984 Rape-Murder in Arlington of Carolyn Jean Hamm was a “Signature Crime” to the Susan Tucker case, which also involved the same M.O.  Furthermore, a DNA analysis of the evidence from the Carolyn Jean Hamm case was matched to Spencer.  The original suspect, David Vasquez who matched the profile been convicted and was still in jail.  The Horgas Investigation revealed that David Vasquez was innocent and had been in prison for five years.  On January 4, 1989 David Vasquez was granted an unconditional pardon and released from jail.

The prosecution used the “Signature Crime Theory” in each of the separate murder trials to present evidence that all of the crimes were committed by the same person.  A summary of the legal definition of the “Signature Crime Theory,” according to a Supreme Court decision in Louisiana (State v. Davis, 1980)  (8) is as follows; “Where evidence of a separate crime is used to establish the identity of the accused, more is required than merely proving the repeated commission of crimes of the same class.  Generally, the device used to commit the crime, or the manner in which the crime was committed, must be so distinctive as to indicate a modus operandi or to act as a Signature of the accused.”

In the Timothy Wilson Spencer serial murder cases, the offender made sure that the victims, who were married or had a relationship, were home alone when he attacked. He exerted total control over these victims and spent considerable time in their homes.

The DNA evidence in this series of rapes and murders was the crucial because it forensically linked the cases.  However, The DNA analysis also enabled Prosecutors to pass the legal test for "signature crimes," meaning enough similarities existed to believe that the crimes were committed by the same person.  In each of the incidents, the women had been raped and sodomized by their attacker after he had accosted them in their sleep. Each victim had been strangled to death with ligature. Each of the victims was found face down and had been similarly bound with their hands tied behind their backs. This "Signature Crime" tactic was used in each of the subsequent prosecutions as well as the penalty phase hearings on each of the convictions

Timothy Wilson Spencer was convicted on all of the homicides and in the Penalty Phase was sentenced to death in each of the cases. His case was the first Appellate Division ruling on the admissibility of DNA evidence in a Capital Murder Case.

In September, 1989 The Virginia Supreme Court upheld the DNA Convictions and the Death Penalty. This was also the first Execution based on DNA Evidence in the United States of America.  Timothy Wilson Spencer was executed in the electric chair at the Greensville Correctional Center by the Commonwealth of Virginia on April 27, 1994.

 

Case History

George Waterfield Russell, a Black Male was linked by DNA to three sex-related murders in a series of murders that occurred in Washington State in 1990.  The murders began in Bellevue, Washington in June and ended within King County in September 1990. Initially, authorities were not aware of the linkage of these cases, due to a delay in the analysis of pubic hair evidence retrieved from the first two crime scenes. In addition, the authorities were misdirected with the emergence of a more viable suspect in the second murder investigation.  Further adding to the confusion, a request for Criminal Profile was submitted through the Washington Office to Quantico.  The FBI Profile of the UNSUB came back as that of a White Male, twenty to thirty years of age who resided in the area. (Geberth, 2006) (9) (Olsen, 1994) (10)

On June 23, 1990, the body of an unidentified nude, white female was discovered in the parking lot of a restaurant. Her body was found face-up, lying on her back with her legs crossed at the ankles.   Her face was partially covered with a lid from a plastic cup, which covered blunt-force injuries to her head. There was also evidence that her necklace had been used as a ligature along with scratch marks on the side of her neck. In addition, there were postmortem drag marks on the high points of her body, indicating that she had been dragged. The assailant had posed the victim’s body with the victim’s hands crossed on her chest with a pinecone beneath her fingers. The police recovered foreign pubic hairs on and near the body. The medical examination revealed that she had been vaginally raped and anally sodomized with an unknown object.  

Her clothing was missing along with any identification. As a result, her identity remained unknown until June 27, 1990 when she was identified as 27-year-old Mary Ann Pohlreich who had been reported as a “Missing Person” from Redmond, Washington.

Investigators determined that she had been last seen at a popular bar and restaurant called Papagayo’s Cantina in the City of Bellevue 3/4 of a mile from scene. A witness reported seeing her at 12:30 A.M.  Her car was later located in the parking lot of the establishment where her pocketbook was discovered in the restaurant’s lost and found.   The detectives began an intensive investigation by conducting Infrared surveillance of the patrons of Papagayo’s Cantina. During the photo surveillance a number of subjects were identified as potential witnesses.

During the first few weeks of the Pohlreich case, the police concentrated their investigation on patrons at the night club where the victim had last been last seen by a witness.

A Black male, identified as George Russell interjected himself into the case by offering to show photos of the victim to patrons.  He also made it a point to let every detective on the case know he knew who they were.  Basically, he was a friendly nuisance. (11)

On August 9, 1990, the body of a 32-year-old white female identified as Carol Marie Beethe was discovered in her bedroom by her 13-year-old daughter.  The victim’s nude body had been displayed on the bed with a pillow over her head. The barrel of a shotgun had been inserted into the victim’s vagina. The body was totally nude except for a pair of red high heel shoes, which had been placed upon her feet by the offender. The body had been positioned so that whoever walked into the room would be confronted with this grotesque sight. There was evidence of blunt-force trauma to the head and manual strangulation.

Although there wasn’t any evidence of vaginal rape or sodomy, there were foreign pubic hairs found on the mattress and the rug in the victim’s bedroom. Two expensive rings were missing from the hands of the victim. (12)

Both of these crimes occurred within 47 days of each other and there were certainly similar circumstances of posing and propping of both bodies at the crime scene.  However, in the second case the police had good reason to suspect a former boyfriend, who made an excellent suspect due to his activities prior to the murder. This case, as presented to authorities, appeared to be a classic interpersonal violence-oriented type dispute and assault. In addition, when the police attempted to question him, he hired an attorney, who refused to even discuss the case with the authorities.

From an investigative perspective it was logical not to link these cases at this time.  Furthermore, the classification of the pubic hair from the first case as well as the present case would not be determined by the FBI lab until September. In fact, had the local state lab conducted the basic hair classification both of these cases could have been linked, despite the antics of the former boyfriend, who was Caucasian.

The next case took place 24 days after the last murder within the same county but under the jurisdiction of the King County, Washington Police Department. On September 3, 1990, the body of a 24-year-old, white female victim identified as Andrea “Randi” Levine as discovered in her home.  Her nude body had been positioned under the bed covers with a pillow covering her face.

There was a vibrator placed in the victim’s mouth and next to her head was a book entitled More of the Joys of Sex. There was also evidence of blunt-force trauma to the victim’s head. When the police removed the bed covers, they saw that the body had been posed spread-eagled on her back, with a series of postmortem slashing and stabbings. The victim’s body was posed face-up thereby exposing her breasts and genitalia. The cause of death was blunt-force trauma to her head.  However, the offender felt the need to inflict over 241 postmortem stab wounds throughout the victim’s body. There were frontal wounds into the side of the victim’s neck, into her chest, breasts and abdomen, and upper thighs. There was a series of dorsal wounds in the back and buttocks, and along both legs. Even the bottom of the victim’s feet bore evidence of this piquerism. An expensive ring was missing from the victim’s finger. Once again as in the previous two cases crime scene technicians recovered a foreign pubic hair, which was adherent to one of her stab wounds.  It was apparent that the offender spent a considerable amount of time at the crime scene. The infliction of all of these postmortem wounds throughout the body took a considerable amount of time.

Investigation revealed that the victim was last seen August 30th at a bar in Kirkland.  She was scheduled to go on a couple of Labor Day outings that weekend with two different friends.  However, when she didn’t show up at either event her friends assumed that she must have gone with the other group.   In the early morning hours of Aug. 31st, her landlord was awakened by the barking of his dog.  He went out to his back yard where he saw a male dressed all in black vault over the fence.  The landlord believed that he had frightened off a burglar.  In reality he had chased the killer. (13)

George Waterfield Russell became a solid suspect in early September, when Seattle Robbery Detective Rick Buckland provided the Bellevue & King County Police with information regarding a gun arrest of Russell in the City of Seattle, which is also in King County.  The gun had been stolen from a residence near to the Levine homicide.  In addition, authorities had been informed that the FBI lab analysis of the pubic hairs found at each of the homicide scenes had finally been completed.  All of the hairs were all Negroid in origin.

The detectives concentrated their efforts on Russell, who was a known burglar and as an adolescent had a history of fetish burglaries and other nuisance offenses.  He was proficient at entering homes while people were asleep.  The authorities had sufficient evidence to arrest him.

Each of the bodies had Negroid hairs on or near their bodies. The semen and sperm found on the first victim was matched to the suspect through DNA. The police located a vehicle used to transport the first victim and discovered blood in the front seat cushion. This blood matched the blood of the first victim through DNA analysis. Police located a witness who identified one of the rings stolen from the second victim. The suspect had tried to sell the ring to the witness. The ring stolen from the last victim was traced back to the suspect.

He was placed under surveillance and was almost caught when someone reported a prowler lurking in the back yard of a young woman’s apartment.  Responding police officers located and detained Russell, who was charged with a misdemeanor.  The authorities were concerned that they might lose him while under surveillance and that he would kill again. A decision was made to arrest him an on outstanding criminal trespass warrant in connection with the gun arrest in Seattle and then confront him with their evidence.  However, Russell immediately invoked his right to counsel and he refused to talk about the murders.  He was charged with Aggravated First Degree Murder.

The prosecution used the “Signature Crime Theory” in each of the separate murder trials to present evidence that all of the crimes were committed by the same person. 

Each murder was sexually motivated. Each of the victims were discovered totally nude. Each victim’s body had been positioned face-up to expose the breasts and genitalia. Each victim had been posed and/or positioned after death with props and/or objects inserted near or placed on their bodies. It was apparent that the killer spent a considerable amount of time with each of the victims and engaged in activities, which went well beyond those necessary to kill the victims.

In fact, there was a classic progression of violence inflicted on each new victim. The cause of death for each of the victims was blunt-force trauma. In each case, trophies had been taken from the victims, i.e., clothing, rings, and jewelry. Each crime scene revealed Negroid pubic hairs, which were matched to the defendant.

George Waterfield Russell was found Guilty of the three murders and was sent to Walla Walla prison on a Life Sentence.

 

Case History

Derrick Todd Lee, a Black Male was linked by DNA to seven sex-related murders in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette Area of Southern Louisiana in 2004.  He was formally charged with the murders of six of the women. (14) (15)

In 1992 Connie Warner had vanished from her home in the Oak Shadows subdivision of Zachary, Louisiana. Eleven days later her body was found lying in a ditch near to Baton Rouge.  Three months after Warner’s murder Derrick Todd Lee was arrested near Oak Shadows subdivision when a man came home and caught Lee inside his home.  He had two daughters who were not home when Lee broke into the house.  Two months later Lee was arrested again for breaking into a house and beating a man before making off with the man’s cash.  In April, 1993 two teenagers were found beaten in their car by a patrol officer. The offender had fled when the police cruiser pulled up on the vehicle.  The female victim provided a description of a Black male as her attacker. In the interim Lee spent a year in prison for the burglaries.

In 1995 Derrick Todd Lee was picked up in Lake Charles, Louisiana for peeping into windows.  In July, 1997 The Zachary Police department began receiving complaints of women on the Oak Shadows district of a “Peeping Tom.” Detective David McDavid identified Derrick Todd Lee as the offender, who received probation for the incidents.  In August, 1999 Lee got picked up on stalking and peeping charged in nearby West Feliciana Parish.  Once again he got two more years of probation and a$300 fine.

On April 28, 1998, 28-year-old Randi Mebruer, was snatched from her Zachary. Louisiana home in the subdivision of Oak Shadows as her 3-year-old son slept in his bed.  This was six years after the Connie Warner homicide and within the immediate proximity of the 1992 murder. Mebruer’s body was never found, but her murder was later linked to Derrick Todd Lee in 2004.  In 2000 a judge in Feliciana Parish sentenced Lee to prison for beating his girlfriend in a bar. Lee got out in January 2001. 

In September, 2001 Baton Rouge began to experience the sex-related murders of several women.  The first three victims, all of whom were White, were found in their homes.

On September 24, 2001, Forty-one year-old Gina Wilson Green, who was a nurse, was found strangled in her home.  Evidence suggested that she had been sexually assaulted.

 On January 14, 2002 across the river from Baton Rouge, the body of Geralyn DeSoto was found in her mobile home.  She had been stabbed and her throat was cut.  

Five months later on May 31, 2002, the body of 21-year old Charlotte Pace was found in her Baton Rouge Home. She had been stabbed over 80 times. 

On July 12, 2002, 44-year-old Pam Kinamore disappeared from her home.  Four days later, her body was found floating in a body of water 30 miles away in Whiskey Bay off of Route I-10. All of the victims had been strangled or stabbed. 

In July, 2002 The Baton Rouge Police Department hosted a meeting of local law enforcement law enforcement investigators to find out how many cases were linked.  A Task Force consisting The Baton Rouge Police Department and The East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office had been established to look into the four murders, which had been linked through DNA to one killer.

Lt. David McDavid from the Zachary Police Department attended the meeting and advised the group that he and Attorney General Investigator Dannie Mixon believed that Derrick Todd Lee was their most probable suspect. McDavid presented his three cases to the group.  He explained The Connie Warner murder which had taken place in 1992 and the abduction and disappearance of Randi Mebruer in1998. He also explained the 1993 attack on a couple who had been parked in their car by an unknown Black male, as well as the series Burglaries and “Peeping Tom” incidents attributed to Lee.

However, the lead agencies dismissed his suggestions because the FBI profile, which had been prepared for this case indicated that the serial killer was a White male and Derrick Todd, Lee, who was Black did not fit the profile.  The Louisiana Multi-Agency Task Force focused on an UNSUB White male as described in the FBI profile as twenty-five to thirty-five years of age and lived within the area.  DNA samples were taken from hundreds of white males for comparison to the DNA evidence, which had linked the four victims.

     On November 21, 2002, The Serial Killer struck again outside Baton Rouge. This time the victim was a Black female.  Trineisha Columb was visiting her mother’s grave in St. Landry Parish when she went missing.  Her car was found nearby.  Three days later her body was discovered twenty miles away in a wooded area by a hunter. She had been beaten to death.  DNA linked this case to the murders of Green, Pace and Kinamore.

    On March 3, 2003 Carrie Lyn Yoder, a 26 year old LSU Grad Student was abducted from her home as she was unloading groceries.  Ten days later, her body was found floating in Whiskey Bay. This was just a mile from where Pam Kinamore’s body had been found in July, 2001.   Yoder had been beaten and strangled as well as raped. The DNA linked her death to the other women.

Even though The Louisiana Multi-Agency Task Force had dismissed their theories, Lt. David McDavid and Investigator Dannie Mixon were sure that Derrick Todd Lee was the most viable suspect in these killings and continued to look into Lee’s activities.

    In 2003, The Louisiana Multi-Agency Task Force, which had been bogged down for almost a year looking for the UNSUB White Male decided to send their evidence out to a private lab DNA Print Genomics, Inc. for analysis. Biographical Ancestry is the heritable component of race based on Ancestry Informative Markers of which there are four main continental groups; East Asian, sub-Saharan, Indo-European and Native American. The lab informed them that their suspect was 85% sub-Saharan and 15% Native American in other words Black NOT White.

 

Methods

This research was totally reliant upon secondary sources of information.  Multiple sources of information were examined for each case whenever available.  However, it was often not possible to know how much information had been recycled from one source to another. The data were collected from various news sources, some acquired through Lexus/Nexis as well as Google Alerts, The Internet and police files which the author had acquired during professional consultations.

The initial challenge for this study was to isolate a specific population of offenders described as serial murderers. The definition used was “The unlawful killing of two or more persons by the same offender(s) in separate events.” (Department of Justice, 2005) (16)  

 

The Data

The author maintains a current listing of serial killers in the United States in conjunction with his research and consultation, which provided a dataset of 488 serial killers in the U.S. as of April, 2012.  The next challenge was to isolate a specific population of serial murderers from the overall dataset of 488 who had violated their victims sexually.  The author used the following operation definition:  “Two or more separate sex-related murders where an individual, acting alone or with another, commits two or more sex-related homicides over a period of time, with time breaks between each murder event.”  Serial killings with motivations such as Racial, Thrill, Black Widow, Robbery etc. were extracted from the list and “Spree Killers” were not included providing a dataset of 417 sexual serial killers, which represented approximately 86% of all the serial murderers.  The author then identified the 155 Black sexual serial killers from the 417 total sexual serial killer dataset.

 

Limitations

The researcher must remain mindful of the question of integrity of the data sources when interpreting the data of the study.  The sample used was an unknown proportion of the actual population of serial killers in the United States.  The goals of this study are necessarily limited in scope due to the acknowledged paucity of systematic research on serial murder. Notwithstanding, the current research makes an important contribution to our knowledge of existing cases and provides the basis for further qualitative and quantitative study.

 

Results

The 155 Black sexual serial killers from the 417 total represented 37.2% of all the sexual serial murders in the U.S. as of April, 2012.  In 1980 Black sexual serial killers accounted for approximately 21.7% of the murders.  Black sexual serial killer doubled between 1991 and 2000 to 50.6% and then peaked at 70.1% between 2001 and 2012.  Presently, the overall percentage is 37.2%, which is almost double the percentage from the 1980’s.

The data was divided chronologically beginning with cases which occurred prior to 1980 and then calculated in ten-year increments up to the April, 2012.  The following Table provides a breakdown of sexual serial murder prior to 1980 up to April, 2012.

 

Research Conclusions

There was a total of 417 Sexual Serial Killers who killed 3440 victims. The 155 Black sexual serial killers, who represented 37.2% of the total, murdered 1002 victims.  The most frequent modality of death of the victims was strangulation, which occurred in 68.6% of the cases. 

This research revealed that Black sexual serial killers targeted more White female victims than White sexual serial killers targeted Black females.  The exceptions to that finding were prostitute and homosexual serial killings.  

31.6% of the cases involved White victims, 45.3% of the cases involved Black victims and in 23.1% of the cases the victims were Black, White, Hispanic or other. 21.9% of the Black sexual serial killers engaged in home invasions murders involving 200 White female victims and 15 Black female victims and 9 mixed race killings. 

 

 

BLACK SEX-RELATED SERIAL KILLERS IN THE U.S.

 

Years by Decade

Total Sexual

Serial Murders

Total Black

Serial Killers

Percentage

of Black Killers

Prior to 1981

134

29

21.7%

1981 To 1990

148

48

32.4%

1991 To 2000

87

44

50.6%

2001 To 2012

48

34

70.1%

TOTALS

417

155

37.2%

 

 

Ideas for Further Research

Due to the various differences in defining serial murder and compiling a complete data set it is difficult to establish total serial killer listings.  Furthermore the reluctance of the media to identify Race in many of the cases in the news reports adds to the difficulty of establishing the necessary descriptors for clarity.  Ideally, a nationwide study could be undertaken by accessing the data in the Violent Apprehension Program (VICAP) and comparing those data with the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) as well as the media reports accessed through Lexis/Nexis to update and verify the total numbers and typologies of serial killers.  This would create an important frame of reference and have a value for both investigative and research considerations.

 

Conclusion

Realistically speaking, serial killers of any race get away with their crimes for longer periods of time because there is no connection between the offender and victim.  In most homicides, people kill those with whom they have a relationship.  It could be a spouse or friend, an acquaintance. The police concentrate on this probability.  In serial sexual homicide cases the killers often target strangers, and many may be prostitutes and/or drug abusers, he said. Prostitutes and drug abusers are easy targets because they have high-risk jobs and they are less likely to be missed by anyone.

This research showed an increase in male Black serial killers, most of whom had a history of rape and/or other sexual assault.  These offenders killed to prevent identification.

Investigatively speaking, if you are investigating a series of sex-related homicides in major urban areas and cities with a predominantly Black population you must consider that your serial murder suspect will be Black and not White as most profiles indicate.

 

Investigative Considerations

The four main criteria used to link murders serial murder are, the physical evidence, offender description, victimology and crime scene behavior.  The evaluation of forensic evidence, which may identify the race of the suspect, is paramount in any profile as well as the geographic and the racial make-up of the community where the serial killer is operating.

The research value of this paper is that it represents the most comprehensive compilation of Black sexual serial killers in any current literature.  Furthermore, it provides an important frame of reference for the law enforcement community as well as researchers within the criminal justice system to be aware of trends and criminal intelligence so that they can provide effective services.


Data Spreadsheet: Black Sexual Serial Killers

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NAME

STATE

# KILLED

Victim Race

DATES

METHOD

AREA

ORIENT

DECADE

ABLES, Tony

FL

4

W (HI)

1983-1992

STRANGLE

G

Hetero.

91 To 00

ALLEN, Howard Arthur

IN

3

W (HI)

1974-87

BEAT/Stab

G

Hetero.

81 TO 90

ANDERSON, Joshua Julius

OK

5

B

2006-07

SHOT/BURN

G

Hetero.

01 To 2011

ATKINS, Benjamin T.

MI

11

B

1991-92

STRANGLE

G

Hetero.

91 To 00

BALAAM, Anthony

NJ

4

B W (Pros)

1994-96

STRANGLE

G

Hetero.

91 To 00

BARNES, James Antonio

NY

4

B

1988

SHOT

G

Hetero.

81 TO 90

BARRETT, Jerome Sydney

TN

2

W

1975

STRANGLE

G

Hetero

PRIOR 81

BAXTER, Patrick

NY

3

W

1987-90

STRANGLE

G

Hetero.

81 TO 90

BELCHER, Howard Milton

GA

3

B

2002

STRANGLE

G

Homo

01 To 2011

BEST, Alonzo

MD

5

B

1986-87

STRANGLE/BEAT/STAB

G

Hetero.

80 TO 90

BIRD, Jake

WA

33

W (HI)

1947

AXED

G

Hetero.

PRIOR 81

BIXLER, Rodney Troy

TN

3

B W

2000

STRANGLE

G

Hetero.

91 To 00

BLAIR, Terry

MO

7

B

1982-04

STRANGLE

G

Hetero.

01 To 2011

BOMAR, Arthur

PA/NV

4

W

1990-96

BEAT

G

Hetero

91 To 00

BORDERS, Eugene

NC

3

W

2003-04

BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA

G

Hetero.

01 To 2011

BOYD, Lucious

FL

10

B W

1993-99

BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA

G

Hetero.

91 To 00

BRITT, Eugene Victor

IN

3

B

1995

STRANGLE

G

Hetero.

91 To 00

BROGSDALE, Rickey

D.C.

4

B W

1987

SHOT

G

Hetero.

81 TO 90

BROOKS, Shelley Andre

MI

7

B W (Pros)

2001-06

BEAT/BLUNT FORCE

G

Hetero.

01 To 2011

BROWN, Curtis

TX

12

W (HI)

1984-86

STRANGLE

G

Hetero.

81 TO 90

BROWN, Debra

IL

9

B

1984

w/Coleman  - TEAM

I

Hetero.

81 TO 90

BROWN, Raymond

AL

5

B

1960-87