Reign of Terror: The New Orleans Serial Killer- 1991-???
For over twenty-five years, the New Orleans Police Department has been searching for an unknown man that is believed to be responsible for at least eight murders throughout the city.
There were also eighteen murders in the three years after authorities attributed those eight murders to the same killer, who may also be responsible for some of the latter homicides.
Police believe the killer chooses victims that he believed were prostitutes.
The first one, seventeen-year-old Danielle Britton, was found on August 4, 1991, covered in trash at an illegal dump site. She lived nearby with her mother. She had been strangled and possibly raped approximately twelve hours earlier.
As the investigation began, police were approached by a neighbor who told her about an attack that had occurred nearby two weeks earlier.
This victim, "Brenda," survived but was severely injured by the unknown man. He began following her one night while she was going to a friend's house. He insisted on giving her a ride, but she refused. He then abducted her and took her to the same trash site where Danielle would be found.
He tried to strangle her and then left her for dead. She awoke the next morning and described her attacker to police.
A third victim, Charlene Price, was found on September 22, 1991, dumped just one mile from where Danielle was found. The fourth victim was found on December 14, 1991; she has never been identified. She was in her early 20s, was 5'2", weighed 125 pounds, and had protruding front teeth.
On January 14, 1992, twenty-nine-year-old Lydia Madison was found murdered and was the fifth victim. She was found under the greater New Orleans bridge (npw known as the Crescent City Connection), very close to police headquarters.
Three other victims would later be found dead. The total number was now eight. Seven were found within a three mile radius.
The killer struck once a month, always strangling his victims and always leaving them nude and face down, in or near illegal dump sites.
Based on details given to the police by the one known suspect who lived, a composite was made. The police released it to the media, describing him as a muscular black man in his 30s. After it was released, no new victim’s surfaced for almost half a year.
The police believed he was scared off by the likeliness of the composite.
He was described as clean cut, well dressed, and 5'10". On the night of Danielle's murder, he was seen with her outside of a bar called Neva's Rendezvous. He was driving a blue Regal or Monte Carlo. He has never been identified.
From 1992 to 1995, at least eighteen more women were killed in the New Orleans area. Local police and the FBI suspect that they may have also been victims of the same killer.
Victor Gant, a former New Orleans police officer, was suspected in the 1995 murders of Karen Ivester and Sharon Robinson, who were believed to have been murdered on the same night by the same killer.
A shoe-print tread next to Karen's body matched Sharon's shoe. Sharon was Gant's ex-girlfriend and she previously claimed that he had abused her. He has never been charged and some believe that investigators may have covered up his involvement because he was a fellow officer.
However, in 1998, another suspect named Russell Ellwood was arrested for the murders of Cheryl Lewis and Delores Mack, two of the suspected victims who were found murdered in February 1993. He was later charged with second-degree murder and is suspected in a total of eight murders.
In the past, he had made several statements alluding to the fact that he had murdered prostitutes. While in jail on unrelated charges, he described in graphic detail how he drugged and choked prostitutes before dragging their naked bodies away.
He later confessed to an investigator that he had taken a black female and "placed" her in the water.
Ellwood's ex-girlfriend testified that he had taken her to two of his victims' bodies. He also was found hanging around the area that Cheryl's body was found a year prior. He reportedly had been seen with her several times prior to her murder.
However, investigators later discovered that he was in Ohio at the time of Delores's murder, so the charges in that case were dropped. In 1999, he was convicted of Cheryl's murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Gant remains a suspect in several of the murders , and investigators believe that another suspect in the murders may still be out there who has never been identified.