Bayou Murders Frustrate Community

The man leading the hunt for the south Louisiana serial killer has become a lightning rod for the frustration and criticism of an edgy public.

The scrutiny began when the first three murders were linked last summer. Pat Englade, 51, a longtime officer in the Baton Rouge Police Department, had been chief for just over a year.

He has since been accused of hiding information that could keep the public safe and of being unable to handle the depth of an investigation required to track the man who authorities now say has murdered at least five women in Baton Rouge and Lafayette since September 2001.

DNA evidence has linked one person to the deaths of Gina Green, 41; Charlotte Murray Pace, 22; Pam Kinamore, 44; Trineisha Dene Colomb, 23; and Carrie Yoder, 26. Two were killed in their homes. The others were dumped elsewhere; two in the same area of the Atchafalaya River Basin.

Authorities created a composite picture of a "person of interest" and posted it on billboards, but they have yet to name a suspect and there have been no arrests.

"I don't know if anybody, maybe except the White House, deals with the media onslaught we've had to deal with in the past few months," Englade said. "We've had some growing pains. We've made some mistakes, I admit it."

At the top of the list, Englade wonders if the daily media briefings last summer were a wise idea. Police often had no new information, and the briefings became a monotonous reiteration of previously announced details.

The briefings stopped, but the complaints continued. Some people say Englade is too brusque, seems defensive and doesn't handle questioning well. Few question his dedication to finding the killer, but they question whether he has given people enough information to protect themselves.

"I think the public is intelligent and they want to know what's going on without it jeopardizing or impeding the investigation," said state Rep. Yvonne Welch, who represents the area near Louisiana State University where some of the victims lived.

The cries have been loud for bringing in outside assistance. The FBI, state police and several other agencies are in the task force, but many people want police consulting everyone who's ever dealt with a serial killer investigation or researched DNA evidence.

Along with complaints, people who have bits of information they think might finger the killer approach Englade in stores, contact him by e-mail and phone his wife.

"It's very difficult for me to go out in public right now. I can't go out to Wal-Mart without six or seven people coming up to me," Englade said in an interview.

"I've aged about 10 years in the last nine months. You never leave this situation whether you want a few hours sleep or want to go to dinner with your wife," he said.

Geri Teasley, who organizes monthly rallies to remember the serial killer victims and other women whose murders remain unsolved, said the public feels alienated by Englade and the other authorities working on the case.

"He could very well be talking to the next victim. I think that hasn't necessarily hit him yet," said Lisa Dee, the head of a group called Citizens Against the Serial Killer. Dee is a false name she provides because she's afraid to give her real identity.

Englade said he's given out as much information as he could and wonders if he's provided too much, like the type of shoe print the killer left at crime scenes and the description of a white truck that might be connected to the killer.

He said the criticism is unfair, but he understands people are frustrated and afraid.

"I don't know what else we can do to hammer this home. You've got to lock your doors. You have to take care of yourself. We cannot put a policeman in everybody's house," Englade said at a March forum at LSU.

Gov. Mike Foster, the mayor and other officials have said they have confidence in Englade. Foster said he visits the task force once a week.

"If this guy makes one mistake, they've got him," Foster has said of the task force and Englade's leadership. "They're that professional. They're that good."

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