SERIAL KILLINGS

This is a sketch of a "person of interest" in connection with the serial killings in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, La., released Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2002, during a news conference at the Lafayette Parish Sheriff Office in Lafayette. Police will ask up to 100 men in the Lafayette area to voluntarily submit DNA samples to investigators searching for the killer of four women whose slayings have unnerved southern Louisiana. Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mike Neustrom would not say when police planned to contact the men. (AP Photo/Lafayette Parish Sheriff Office via Lafayette Daily Advertiser)

When Bayou Justice recounted the 2008 disappearance of Holden resident Barbara Blount, astute readers recalled significant similarities between her disappearance and the abduction of a Denham Springs business owner.

Two eyewitnesses told investigators they saw Barbara Blount standing in the location where the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office later recovered her abandoned car. If these accounts are accurate, they constitute the last sighting of the missing Sunday school teacher. Barbara Blount looked distraught that day, the witnesses said, standing next to a white male in a white pick-up truck.

Before the arrest of confessed serial killer Derrick Todd Lee – a black man who owned a maroon pick-up truck – the Baton Rouge Police Department circulated a sketch and description of their prime suspect, a white male driving a white pick-up truck.

Two earlier witnesses provided investigators with this description regarding one specific murder, that of a Denham Springs shopkeeper named Pam Piglia Kinamore.

When the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab identified the body of the 44-year-old former beauty queen on August 17, 2002, journalist Melissa Moore wrote, “The killings of more than two dozen women in and around Baton Rouge during the past decade remain unsolved. Although the killer or killers dumped most of the victims in secluded areas, only a few of the 29 homicides have been conclusively linked by DNA.”

Pam Kinamore’s murder was one of those not conclusively linked. The genetic profile from her crime scene did not produce a complete set of markers due to the degradation of her corpus delicti.

After her body sat three days in the summer heat, forensic examiners identified Pam’s remains using her dental records. The nightmare began at 9:30, on a Friday evening, July 12, 2002.

That night, following her usual routine, Pam Kinamore locked the doors of Comforts and Joys, her antique shop on Range Avenue in Denham Springs, and presumably drove home to 8338 Briarwood Place in Baton Rouge.

At 11:45, Pam’s husband, Byron, arrived home, finding his wife’s car in the driveway. Inside, he found a bathtub filled with cold water, spots of blood on a bedroom rug, and bedroom furniture in disarray, but no Pam.

Before morning, Byron called the police and reported his wife missing. Two days after Pam disappeared, a 28-year-old Mississippi woman reported that a white man forced her into his white pick-up on Interstate 10 and raped her.

Following the assault, she escaped somewhere between Baton Rouge and Lafayette. A police sketch artist created a composite drawing based on the victim’s description of the white man driving a white pick-up truck.

On the following day, July 16, 2002, a survey crew found Pam’s naked body, baking in the sun, south of Interstate 10’s Whiskey Bay exit.

At the post mortem conducted at the Orleans Parish Coroner’s office, examiners found defensive injuries on both hands, her left elbow, and the backs of both of her arms  and knees. Noting physical evidence of forceful penetration of the vagina and the anus, examiners utilized a sexual assault kit, obtaining DNA using vaginal swabs.

The autopsy proved someone strangled her before cutting her throat in three places, slicing through her skin and windpipe. Below the larynx, a sharp instrument pierced her right carotid artery and both jugular veins.

One week later, another witness told police that she had seen a woman resembling Pam Kinamore, the night she vanished, slumped in the passenger seat of a white pick-up truck being driven by a white male with a slight build.

She said, just after 3:00 AM, the vehicle sped westwards down I-10, before turning at the Whisky Bay exit, where the survey crew found Pam’s body. Somewhere near the back of the pick-up, the witness saw the shape of a fish, possibly “the fisher of men” symbol churches made prevalent in the 1990s.

Later that week, police released the composite drawing of the suspect, along with a detailed description of his vehicle, a white late 90s model General Motors or Chevrolet single-cab pick-up truck. The license plate, from an undetermined state, may have contained the digits JT341.

One month later, the Baton Rouge Police Department, West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Louisiana State Police, and the FBI, formed a multi-agency murder task force, determined to catch the killer. At first, the Task Force actively solicited help from the public. 

In November 2002, they collected DNA samples from 600 volunteers, followed by 100 potential suspects the following month. After hiring a criminal profiler, Dr. Maurice Godwin, the police took the unusual step of releasing the doctor’s profile to the public. According to the profile, the killer was a white male between the ages of 25 and 35.

He earned less than average income and generally avoided interaction with people. He may have been a construction or plant worker, someone with the strength to carry Pam Kinamore’s body through boggy terrain. Godwin felt the killer might have been insecure around women, particularly those displaying sophistication. His victims, the profile suggested, dismissed him as awkward but harmless. Police said evidence suggested the killer stalked victims before attacking them and carefully planned their murders. The profiler believed that the killer might give himself away, eventually displaying frustration over the media coverage of his crimes and openly criticize investigators. However, under pressure from the public, the Task Force did not allow time to test Dr. Godwin’s theory.

In April of 2002, Angela Ross, a DNA specialist with the Louisiana State Crime Lab, discovered DNA evidence linking the deaths of Gina Wilson Green and Charlotte Murray Pace, two women in their early 20s, murdered near Louisiana State University. Almost a year later, a forensic specialist in Florida insisted that some rare DNA markers in the Baton Rouge samples suggested that an African-American may have committed one of the murders.

The Task Force became convinced this DNA evidence outweighed eyewitness testimony, and ultimately abandoned their search for the subject in Godwin’s profile, along with the white male and his white pick-up truck. Although DNA did suggest a single murderer had perpetrated two of the crimes, investigators had no DNA match in any database maintained at the local, state, or national levels – not until May 22, 2003. On that day, police interviewed for a second time, Diane Alexander, who reported to the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office that a black man had raped her.

From this interview and a prior interview with Diane’s son, another sketch artist produced a new drawing, ultimately leading to the DNA testing of Derrick Todd Lee, booked for the rape of Diane Alexander and the murders of Geralyn DeSoto and Charlotte Murray Pace. Although no conclusive DNA markers matched Pam Kinamore to Derrick Todd Lee, police did discover a telephone cord in Whisky Bay they believed Lee had removed from Diane Alexander’s home. For the assault on Geralyn DeSoto, a jury convicted Derrick Todd Lee, sentencing him to life imprisonment without parole. For the rape and murder of Charlotte Murray Pace, a judge sentenced him to death by lethal injection.

On January 21, 2016, Lee died of heart disease, still awaiting execution. In time, investigators learned that multiple serial killers prowled the streets of South Louisiana in the years before and after Pam Kinamore’s murder. Among those later convicted and jailed were Derrick Todd Lee, Sean Vincent Gillis, Jeffrey Lee Guillory, John Allen Muhammad, and Ronald Dominique.

Their victim counts total more than 70, but many area homicides and disappearances have not been definitively attributed to any of these monsters, leaving investigators to wonder. What became of the white male driving the white pick-up truck, and was his vehicle still on the road when Barbara Blount vanished in 2008?

“Bayou Justice” is a weekly true crime column featuring exciting or notable crime related stories often focusing on cold case files in South Louisiana; stories based on interviews with key players, among them: police investigators, lawyers, victims, and their families. If you have information regarding this case, contact Crime Stoppers or your local police agency, or email bayoujustice@hammondstar.com.

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