In Hunt for Louisiana Serial Killer, Jefferson Davis Parish Police Forced to Give DNA Samples
In order to quell rumors that a law enforcement officer might be behind the killings that left partially nude victims in strange locations across Jefferson Davis Parish, 60 miles west of Baton Rouge, officers that work for agencies investigating the deaths are having their DNA tested against evidence in the cases.
Those being tested include members of the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff's Office, the Jennings Police Department and other official agencies.
Jefferson Davis Sheriff Ricky Edwards said the testing is being done to "clear up some of the gossip and rumors that it may be a law enforcement officer involved."
"It is easy to point the finger at law enforcement," he said. "In every serial type case, in every type of prolonged investigation, those rumors come up in every case, so it puts the burden on law enforcement to show that it's not."
The murders of the eight young women since 2005 have baffled residents and overwhelmed law enforcement.
Officials have said the deaths are the work of a serial killer. The victims were found in fields and canals usually without trauma and partially nude. Most had elevated levels of drugs and alcohol in their bodies. The victims likely knew one another and were all known to live or hang out on the crime-ridden south side of Jennings, population 12,000.
There is mistrust among some residents when it comes to law enforcement in the area. Scandal has riddled the Jefferson Davis Sheriff's Office before.
In 2007, Chief Detective Warren Gary was pulled from the investigation after it was found he purchased a vehicle from a potential murder witness and a current inmate of the parish jail.
He was later fined $10,000 by the Louisiana Board of Ethics.
Another detective, Paula Guillory, lost evidence against one of the murder suspects who was later cleared. She was fired.
"They've had their share of problems," private investigator Kirk Menard said.
Menard was hired by some of the victims' families to investigate the deaths.
He said he is pleased with the most recent development from Edwards.
"That's something positive," he said. "That's showing that no one is being singled out."
Menard added that he has also been swabbed. Edwards would neither confirm nor deny that.
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