Colonized by the French in the 18th century, Louisiana offers rich history, incredible food, world-renowned music, breath-taking landscapes, and a diverse range of cultures, making it one of America’s most unique states. However, Louisiana has also produced some of the world’s most heinous serial killers, including Ronald Dominique, who confessed to murdering more than 20 men and boys, and Sean Vincent Gillis, who killed several women while living in Baton Rouge. Like Gillis, Derrick Todd Lee also murdered victims in Baton Rouge, as well as Lafayette, while Danny Rolling — who was born in Shreveport — is best known for the college students he murdered while living in Florida.
Jeffery Lee Guillory is a suspected serial killer who has been linked to the murders of three women, as is Felix Vail, a man who was convicted of killing his wife and has also been tied to the mysterious disappearances of two other possible victims. Robert Carl Hohenberger is also a suspected serial killer who killed himself in Washington when investigators tried to question to him about the murders of several teenagers in Louisiana. The Axeman of New Orleans has never been identified, nor has the Storyville Slayer, two serial killers who terrorized Louisiana’s largest city, leaving a trail of victims behind them.
On December 1, 2006, Louisiana law enforcement arrested a serial killer who had raped and murdered more than 20 men after they received a tip from a parolee who had refused to let Ronald Dominique — who was born on January 9, 1964, in Thibodaux, Louisiana — tie him up for a sexual encounter. Shortly after he was apprehended, Dominique confessed to killing at least 23 men from 1997 to 2006, making him one of the most prolific serial murderers in Louisiana history. According to Dominique, his victims were men and teenage boys he picked up from bars and clubs in New Orleans and took back to his home to rape them. After sexually assaulting his victims, this Louisiana serial killer ended their lives by strangulation or suffocation, later claiming he murdered the young men and boys to avoid getting charged with rape.
Dominique was dubbed the “Bayou Serial Killer” by the media because he dumped his victims’ corpses in remote areas, including bayous, ditches, and sugarcane fields in southeast Louisiana. The Bayou Serial Killer’s victims ranged in age from 16 to 46, and the body of Dominique’s first victim, 19-year-old David Mitchell Jr., was found on July 14, 1997, by the side of a road in Hahnville. On September 23, 2008, this confessed serial killer was given eight life sentences for his crimes; Dominique is currently behind bars at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.
Jeffery Lee Guillory
According to law enforcement, Jeffery Lee Guillory murdered his first known victim, 36-year-old Florida Edwards, by strangling and beating her to death and leaving her body in a bar in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she was discovered on September 3, 1999. Less than two years later on July 25, 2001, the battered corpse of Sylvia Cobb, 36, was found in an abandoned house in Baton Rouge, while the following year on April 11, 2002, 45-year-old Renee Newman was discovered behind a building on Main Street on April 11, 2002, dead from strangulation. On September 26, 2006, the Guillory was interviewed about the killings after his fingerprints were found at the scene of Cobb’s murder, but he denied killing her or the other two women. However, Guillory provided a DNA sample to law enforcement, and he was arrested on December 16, 2009, after the authorities connected him — via biological evidence — to the murders of Newman and Edwards.
On September 26, 2011, the suspected Louisiana serial killer was already serving time for a 2007 attempted murder when he was convicted of killing Renee Newman. Guillory was sentenced to life in prison, but he remains a suspect in the murders of several other Baton Rouge women.
Derrick Todd Lee
From August 23, 1992, to March 3, 2003, Derrick Todd Lee — who was born in St. Francisville, Louisiana, on November 5, 1968 — murdered at least seven women in and around Baton Rouge and Lafayette. While Lee was known to law enforcement because he’d been arrested for stalking, he wasn’t initially considered a suspect in the killings because witnesses had reported seeing a white man in the area around the time the victims were attacked. Also, officials created a profile of the man they thought was responsible for the killings, which indicated the murderer was white.
Lee became a suspect in the murders when one of his surviving victims, Diane Alexander, contacted police about her horrifying experience with this Louisiana serial killer, providing a description of the man who had tried to strangle her to death. Police learned that not only did Lee resemble the composite sketch Alexander helped officials create of her attacker, he’d also been arrested for voyeurism. Lee was charged with the killings on May 27, 2003, after officials learned his DNA matched biological evidence recovered from the bodies of seven murdered women who ranged in age from 21 to 44. On December 10, 2004, this Louisiana serial killer was sentenced to die after he was convicted of stabbing 21-year-old Charlotte Murray Pace to death on May 31, 2002. However, while Lee was in police custody awaiting execution, he passed away from heart disease on January 21, 2016, at the age of 47.
Sean Vincent Gillis
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on June 24, 1962, Sean Vincent Gillis murdered his first known victim, Ann Bryan, on March 21, 1994, after he broke into the 81-year-old woman’s home with the intention of raping her. When Bryan tried to fight off her attacker, Gillis cut the elderly woman’s throat with a hunting knife and stabbed her more than 50 times. This Louisiana serial killer went on to rape and murder several more women in the Baton Rouge area, often stalking his victims before attacking them. Gillis became a suspect in the murders when law enforcement linked his vehicle to tire tracks found near the mutilated body of Donna Bennett Johnston, a 43-year-old woman he strangled to death on February 26, 2004.
After getting a sample of Gillis’s DNA, the authorities connected him to biological evidence found on the corpses of multiple murdered women, and he was arrested on April 29, 2004. On August 20, 2007, this Louisiana serial killer pleaded guilty to strangling Joyce Williams, 36, to death on November 12, 1999, and he was sentenced to life in prison. The following year, he was given additional life sentences after he was found guilty of killing three other women, and on February 17, 2009, Gillis pleaded guilty to murdering Marilyn Nevils, 38, in October 2000. Gillis — who was dubbed the “Other Baton Rouge Serial Killer” by the media — is currently serving multiple life sentences in Angola’s Louisiana State Penitentiary. He has never offered an explanation for his crimes.
On August 12, 2016, a jury convicted Felix Vail of killing his wife Mary more than 50 years earlier on October 28, 1962, after a 2012 autopsy determined she had been murdered. After Mary’s death in 1962, the coroner initially ruled her death an accidental drowning, corroborating Vail’s story that she died after falling out of a boat and into Louisiana’s Calcasieu River. Investigators later discovered Vail had taken out two insurance policies on Mary, one of which paid double if she died as the result of an accident.
In addition to killing Mary in 1962, Vail is considered a suspect in the possible murder of Sharon Hensley, his girlfriend who went missing in February 1973 at the age of 24 while the couple was visiting Key West, Florida. Many believe this convicted murderer may have killed Annette Craver Vail, his second wife who disappeared on October 22, 1984, at 18 years old while the pair was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While Vail — who was born in Montpelier, Mississippi, in 1939 — was only convicted of murdering his first wife, he is a suspected Louisiana serial killer. He is currently serving his life sentence in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.
Robert Carl Hohenberger
Between January and May of 1978, Robert Carl Hohenberger — a former sheriff’s deputy from California who moved to Morgan City, Louisiana, to work in the oil industry — is believed to have murdered one teenage boy and five teenage girls. According to law enforcement, after kidnapping his victims from public places, Hohenberger raped the teenagers, and strangled them to death. This suspected serial killer buried his male victim in a shallow grave, while he dumped the bodies of two teenage girls in a septic tank where they were discovered on May 25, 1978.
Hohenberger — who was born in 1943 — became a suspect in the killings after eyewitnesses reported seeing him with Judy Adams, 15, and Martha Gould, 14, shortly before the teenage girls went missing. Investigators traveled to Tacoma, Washington, to arrest the suspected serial killer. However, instead of surrendering to police, Hohenberger shot himself in the head with a .22 revolver, ending his life on May 31, 1978, at the age of 35.
The Axeman of New Orleans
Between May 1918 and October 1919, an unidentified serial killer know as the Axeman of New Orleans murdered several people in the city, many of them Italian grocers and their wives. While some people believe they may have been responsible for earlier killings, the first victims usually attributed to this Louisiana serial killer are Joseph Maggio and his wife Catherine who were murdered on May 23, 1918, after the Axeman of New Orleans broke into the couple’s home while they were asleep, slashing their throats with a straight razor and bludgeoning them with an axe. This serial killer murdered several more people over the course of nearly a year, gaining their nickname after they sent a letter — dated March 13, 1919 — to the local press which was signed “The Axeman.”
The note, which was published in multiple newspapers, claimed the serial murderer would attack again on March 19, 1919, but they wouldn’t kill people who were playing jazz music in their homes when the Axeman of New Orleans passed by. While no one was killed that evening, Sarah Laumann survived an attack on September 3, 1919, and the last victim attributed to the Axeman of New Orleans, Mike Pepitone, was murdered on October 27, 1919. After Pepitone’s murder, the Louisiana serial killer didn’t strike in New Orleans again, indicating they either died, went to prison, or left the area.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on May 26, 1954, Danny Rolling is best known for the murders he committed in Gainesville, Florida, from August 24, 1990, to August 27, 1990, that resulted in the deaths of four women and one man who ranged in age from 17 to 23. Rolling — who was dubbed the “Gainesville Ripper” by the media — broke into the homes of college students, raped his female victims, and stabbed them to death with a knife, mutilating their bodies after death. Rolling was arrested on September 8, 1990, when he tried to rob a store in nearby Ocala, but he wasn’t immediately a suspect in the killings. However, months later when officials began scrutinizing inmates who had been arrested shortly after the murders stopped, they focused on Rolling. After testing his DNA against biological evidence found on his victims’ corpses, investigators charged Rolling with the murders.
However, it’s possible this serial killer got his start in his home state of Louisiana, because after he was charged with murdering five college students in Gainesville, Florida officials learned Rollings had been a suspect in a triple murder in Shreveport. On November 4, 1989, William Grissom, 55, his daughter Julie, 24, and his grandson, Sean, 8, were found stabbed to death in their home, and the young woman’s body had been mutilated — like the Gainesville victims — after death. While Rolling was never charged with killing the Grissoms, he remains the only suspect in the family’s brutal murder. Rolling, who said he killed people in order to become famous, was executed by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison on October 25, 2006; he was 52.
The Storyville Slayer
From 1991 to 1995, the bodies of 22 women and 5 men were discovered in New Orleans, Louisiana, dead from drowning or suffocation. Several of the victims were found in canals or bayous off of the interstates that run along Lake Pontchartrain, and police learned many of the women and men had ties to prostitution. Consequently, the unidentified serial killer was dubbed the “Storyville Slayer,” a reference to the section of New Orleans that was once home to the city’s red light district. The Storyville Slayer’s victims ranged in age from 17 to 42, although one man and multiple women haven’t been identified.
On April 30, 1995, a fisherman discovered the lifeless body of Karen Ivester, 30, underneath an interstate in St. John Parish, and next to the young woman’s nude corpse, investigators found a wad of chewing tobacco. Authorities later used DNA taken from the chewing tobacco and compared it with a biological sample provided by Victor Gant, a New Orleans police officer who was a suspect in Ivester’s murder and the killing of Sharon Robinson, a 28-year-old woman who was found dead just hours after Ivester’s corpse was discovered. However, the results came back inconclusive, so Gant wasn’t charged with either murder. Gant remains a person of interest in Robinson and Ivester’s killings, and the women’s family members are hopeful investigators will find whoever is responsible for their deaths.
Test Your Knowledge About The Most Loathsome Louisiana Serial Killers!
What nickname did the media give to Ronald Dominique?
Ronald Dominique was dubbed the "Bayou Serial Killer" by the media because he dumped his victims' corpses in remote areas, including bayous, ditches, and sugarcane fields in southeast Louisiana.
What led to Derrick Todd Lee's arrest?
Derrick Todd Lee became a suspect in the murders when one of his surviving victims, Diane Alexander, contacted police about her horrifying experience with this Louisiana serial killer and helped officials create a composite sketch of the man who had tried to strangle her to death.
Which Louisiana murderer was dubbed the "Other Baton Rouge Serial Killer" by the press?
Sean Vincent was dubbed the "Other Baton Rouge Serial Killer" by the press. Derrick Todd Lee was known as the "Baton Rouge Serial Killer."
How did suspected serial killer Robert Carl Hohenberger die?
When investigators went to Tacoma, Washington, to arrest him, Robert Carl Hohenberger shot himself in the head with a .22 revolver, ending his life on May 31, 1978, at the age of 35.
Which group of victims did Danny Rolling prey upon?
Danny Rolling was convicted of killing five college students in Gainesville, Florida.
Test Your Knowledge About The Most Loathsome Louisiana Serial Killers!
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