Sunday, 10 January 2016

92.Paul DUROUSSEAU

A.K.A.: "The Jacksonville Serial Killer"

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 7
Date of murders: 1997 - 2003
Date of arrest: February 6, 2003
Date of birth: August 11, 1970
Victims profile: Tracy Habersham, 26 / Tyresa Mack, 24 / Nicole L. Williams, 18 / Nikia Kilpatrick, 19 (six months pregnant) / Shawanda Denise McCalister, 20 (pregnant) / Jovanna Jefferson, 17 / Surita Cohen, 19
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Florida/Georgia, USA
Status: Sentenced to death in Florida on December 13, 2007

Paul Durousseau (born August 11, 1970) is an American serial killer who murdered seven young women (including two who were pregnant) in the southeast United States between 1997 and 2003.
German authorities suspect he may have killed several local women when he was stationed there with the Army during the early 1990s. Typically, Durousseau would gain the victim’s trust, enter the victim’s home, tie their hands, rape, then strangle them to death. All of his known victims were young, single African American women.
Personal life
Paul Durousseau was born in Beaumont, Texas. Little is known publicly about Paul Durousseau's childhood. His first offenses with the law as an adult took place on December 18, 1991 and on January 21, 1992 for carrying a concealed firearm in California.
In November 1992, he enlisted in the US Army and was stationed in Germany, where he met Natoca, who would later become his wife. The two married in 1995 in Las Vegas. In 1996, they were transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia. On March 13, 1997, he was arrested for kidnapping and raping a young woman. However, in August of that year he was cleared of those charges. Soon after, he was found in possession of stolen goods. He was court-martialed in January 1999, found guilty and dishonorably discharged from the Army.
The two moved to Natoca Durousseau's hometown of Jacksonville, Florida where they had two daughters. It was during that period that he committed most of the murders. He struggled to keep jobs and make ends meet, and the couple would often have fights over the issue of finances. In 1999, the police advised Durousseau's wife on how to file for a restraining order after he allegedly slapped her in the face and grabbed her by the neck. Later, she testified he got violently angry when she talked about getting a divorce. In September and October 2001, Durousseau spent 48 days in jail for domestic battery.
Durousseau still managed to hold various legitimate jobs. In 2001, he was hired as a school bus driver and an animal control worker despite being a convicted felon. In 2003, he worked as a taxi driver in Jacksonville. The Gator City Taxi Company failed to run a background check on Durousseau and it is now accepted that this is how he first became into contact with some of his victims.
Neighbors and friends described him as a "lewd womanizer". He often asked young women when they planned to "make flicks" with him. Witnesses recall him trying to seduce girls as young as 13 years of age.
Chronology of the murders
Less than one month after the acquittal over the raping charges, the nude body of 26-year-old Tracy Habersham was found on September 7, 1997 in Fort Benning. She had been missing for 48 hours and was last seen leaving a party. She had been raped and strangled to death with a cord. Paul Durousseau was not a suspect in the murder but DNA would later tie him to the crime. He also would confess in Habersham's killing after his arrest.
In 1999, he raped and killed 24-year-old Tyresa Mack in her apartment. Witnesses saw him leave her place with a television. In 2001, he was arrested for raping a young woman in Jacksonville. He spent 30 days in jail and received two years' probation. On December 19, 2002, 18-year-old Nicole L. Williams' body was found wrapped in a blue blanket at the bottom of a ditch in Jacksonville. She had been reported missing two days earlier.
On January 1, 2003, family members of 19-year-old Nikia Kilpatrick went to check on her. They had not had any news from her for several days. They found her body in the bedroom of her apartment. She had been raped then killed by strangulation with a cord two days before. Her two sons, an eleven-month-old and a two-year-old, were alive but malnourished. Kilpatrick was approximately six months pregnant at the time of her death.
On January 9 of the same year, 20-year-old nurse assistant Shawanda Denise McCalister, who was also pregnant at the time of her death, was raped and strangled to death in her Jacksonville apartment. The murder scene was almost identical to that of Nikia Kilpatrick. She was killed on Durousseau's first day of driving a cab for Gator City Taxi. Her body was found the following day.
The next two victims were 17-year-old Jovanna Jefferson, and 19-year-old Surita Cohen. Their bodies were found close to each other in a ditch next to a construction site on New Kings Road in Jacksonville on February 5. Police estimated that Jefferson was murdered around January 20 and Cohen was killed 10 days later. Witnesses recount having seen the two last victims with a taxi driver fitting Paul Durousseau's description on the night they disappeared.
He was arrested and charged with five counts of murder on June 17, 2003. On December 13, 2007 he was sentenced to die by lethal injection for the murder of Tyresa Mack. As of March 1, 2010, he was still a resident on Florida's death row. No execution date has been set.
Wikipedia.org

Accused Serial Killer Sentenced To Death
December 13, 2007
US/FL/Jacksonville - A man accused of killing seven women and convicted of one murder was sent to Florida’s death row on Thursday.
Paul Durousseau was convicted in June of the rape and slaying of 24-year-old Tyresa Mack in 1999. The same jury voted 10-2 to recommend the death penalty.
Durousseau’s attorneys argued that his life should be spared because he suffers from brain damage and other mental illnesses that impaired his behavior. But prosecutors said Durousseau was well aware of what he did when he killed the woman and deserved the death penalty.
On Thursday, Judge Jack Schemer formally sentenced Durousseau to death by lethal injection.
“This was a consciously hideous crime,” Schemer said from the bench. “Durousseau is manipulative, devious and crafty.”
Schemer said the brutality of the slaying was among the reasons why he agreed with the jury’s recommendation that Durousseau should die.
Durousseau was arrested in 2003 and is charged in the deaths of Mack and five other women in Duval County. He is also accused of killing a woman in Columbus, Ga., while he was in the Army and stationed at Fort Benning stationed in 1997.
Mack’s family said it has waited eight years to hear their loved one’s killer would die for his crime.
“Thank God it’s all over with. We have a closure. Me and my family, we have been through a lot, including her kids. Thank God it’s finally over with,” said Mack’s sister Latashia Bell, who continues to raise Mack’s three children.
Last month, the State Attorney’s Office dropped the other five murder charges against Durousseau.
Prosecutors were concerned that an acquittal in one of the remaining Jacksonville cases would jeopardize the conviction in the Mack case. Additionally, prosecutors worried an overturned conviction in the Mack case could present problems for the remaining cases.
Durousseau is expected to stand trial in the Georgia slaying. Tracy Habersham’s nude body was found Sept. 7, 1997, two days after a party at a club on base. Police said they believe she was strangled shortly after the party.

No trials for killer's other cases
By Paul Pinkham - The Times-Union
November 9, 2007
Prosecutors have dropped the remaining five Jacksonville murder charges against accused serial killer Paul Durousseau, citing concerns about how the appeal process could affect the cases.
The decision opens the door for Durousseau to be tried next in Columbus, Ga., for a 1997 murder there. And this action doesn't preclude prosecutors from re-indicting Durousseau on the Jacksonville murder cases down the road.
"We did not think it was in the best interest of the case to try the remaining counts," Assistant State Attorney Jay Taylor said Thursday.
Durousseau, 37, was convicted in June of first-degree murder in the 1999 strangulation of Tyresa Mack in her Eastside apartment. A jury recommended the death penalty, and Circuit Judge Jack Schemer is scheduled to sentence Durousseau on Dec. 13. Jacksonville judges usually follow jury recommendations in death penalty cases.
Durousseau, a former taxi driver for Gator City cab, was charged with murdering five other women in Jacksonville between December 2002 and February 2003. But prosecutors dropped those cases last week after meeting with the remaining victims' families and their lawyers. All but one agreed with the decision, Taylor said.
Prosecutors used evidence from two of those cases in the Mack case. If a jury acquitted Durousseau in one of those cases, it could imperil Durousseau's conviction in the Mack case, Taylor said.
Conversely, evidence from Mack's murder could be used against Durousseau in the other murder cases. But if his conviction in Mack's case were overturned on appeal, it could threaten the other cases, according to an internal disposition statement obtained from the State Attorney's Office.
Assistant State Attorney Mack Heavener said the decision expedites the appeals process and Durousseau's sentence and will allow Georgia authorities to try Durousseau while the Florida appeals are pending. Appeals are automatic in Florida death penalty cases.
Because Durousseau waived his speedy trial rights early on in the case, prosecutors could re-indict him for any of the Jacksonville murders at any time, Heavener said.
Cynthia Davis, the mother of slaying victim Surita Cohen, reacted angrily when asked Thursday about the state attorney's decision. But other victims understood the decision, said Taylor and attorney Donald Brown, whose firm represents three of the families in a lawsuit against Gator City.
Public Defender Bill White, whose office represents Durousseau, said prosecutors also may have had financial concerns about prosecuting Durousseau five more times. The cases against him rely heavily on complicated DNA evidence, and the Mack case took three years to get to trial.
"Basically what they said is they don't want to spend the money or time if the death penalty holds up," White said. "Since everybody these days, including the state, has limited ... money, it makes sense not to use up all that money on one case."
White estimated his office spent $200,000 defending Durousseau. Heavener didn't have a comparable estimate, but said the State Attorney's Office spent less than that.

Jury Hands Up Guilty Verdict In Woman’s 1999 Murder
June 8, 2007
US/FL/Jacksonville - After more than 10 hours of deliberations, a jury found Paul Durousseau guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Tyresa Mack.
Mack, 24, was found dead in her Eastside apartment in July of 1999.
Over the course of the past two weeks, the jury has heard from dozens of witnesses and seen several pieces of evidence as the prosecution and defense made their cases.
In addition to Mack’s murder, Durousseau is also charged with killing five other women prior to his arrest in 2003.
Although being tried for the Mack’s death, the deaths of Nikia Kilpatrick and Shawanda McCalister have played prominent roles in Durousseau’s trial.
The day before the trial went to jury, Durousseau took the stand in his own defense and admitted having sex with the three women before their deaths but said he wasn’t the one who killed them.
Durousseau spent about 90 minutes on the stand, answering questions about his relationships with the slain women.
He admitted he met Mack in April 1999 and that, for three months, saw her frequently.
The last time he said he saw Mack was July 26 — the day she was killed. He admitted that when he found out about her death, he did not call police.
He told the court he heard she had been shot, and he didn’t contact police because he didn’t have any information to give them and she was alive when he left.
Durousseau also admitted to lying to detectives when he initially denied knowing any of the slain women.
After the guilty verdict was returned Friday night, Mack’s loved ones said although the process was long, they’re happy it’s over.
“It’s devastating. It’s very devastating that we had to wait this long, but that’s all right because God is good. God is awesome,” said Mack’s sister, Latashia Bell. “He’s getting what he deserves. I know it won’t bring my sister back, but I do have closure — me and my family.”

PAUL DUROUSSEAU: THE KILLER CABBIE
By Rachael Bell

A Deadly New Year's
Around 10:30 p.m. on January 1, 2003 family members of nineteen-year-old Nikia Shanell Kilpatrick went to her Spanish Oaks apartment in Jacksonville, Florida to check up on her. No one in the family had heard from her for several days, which was unusual considering it was the holiday season. When some of the family members arrived at the house they were surprised and worried to see Nikia's two-year old son banging on the window as if pleading for help. When they entered the apartment a putrid stench overwhelmed them. Something was terribly wrong.
Nikia was nowhere in sight. However, as they walked through the apartment they found Nikia's eleven-month old son crawling about on the floor. Then to their horror, they discovered Nikia's decomposing remains lying in one of the bedrooms. She had been bound and strangled to death with a cord. The police were immediately called to the scene.
Investigators conducted an extensive search of the home and its surroundings. Soon afterwards, Nikia's body was removed and taken to the coroner. The medical investigation later revealed evidence pointing to Nikia having been sexually assaulted and murdered up to forty-eight hours before the discovery of her body. Further examination of the body revealed that she had been six months pregnant at the time of her death.
Although Nikia's two small children were unharmed, they suffered from malnutrition as well as the trauma of being confined with their mother's corpse. According to First Coast News, the boys managed to survive by eating dried food from the kitchen. They were put in the care of Nikia's family.
Investigators were able to collect vital physical evidence from the murder scene, yet the evidence did not lead to the identity of the murderer. Police were confident that the murder was not the killer's first because some aspects of the crime appeared too organized. It was further speculated that Nikia would not be his last victim. They couldn't have been more accurate.
Within the space of approximately one month, three more bodies would be discovered that would be attributed to the same killer. Moreover, three other murders, including that of another unborn child, would later be added to the list, totaling eight known victims. It quickly became clear that Jacksonville had a terrifying serial killer on its hands.

A Murderous Rampage
Twenty-year-old Shawanda Denise McCalister was an independent and hard-working girl, determined to forge a successful, happy life. She simultaneously worked as a certified nursing assistant and attended school in the hopes of one day climbing the ladder within the medical field. However, all of her dreams were cut short by the hands of a ruthless killer.
On January 10, 2003 Shawanda had been found strangled to death with a cord in her Jacksonville apartment on Arco Drive. In many ways, Shawanda's death bore marked similarities to Nikia's murder. Like Nikia, there was evidence of a sexual assault and both victims had been bound in a similar manner. Also like Nikia, she had been pregnant at the time of her death. Investigators suspected that Shawanda and Nikia died at the hands of the same killer.
Investigators also linked another previous murder to that of Shawanda and Nikia. On December 19, 2002 police discovered the remains of eighteen-year-old Nicole L. Williams. According to Times-Union staff writer Veronica Chapin, Williams had been found wrapped in a light blue blanket in a ditch on Soutel Drive in Jacksonville. It was suggested that she was murdered in a local Jacksonville hotel.
Nicole had been bound and strangled likeShawanda and Nikia. There was also evidence of sexual assault. Moreover, investigators revealed that DNA taken from the unknown assailant matched samples taken from all three victims. There was little doubt that the same killer was responsible for the deaths of the three women.
On February 5, 2003 a construction crew clearing out a vacant lot on New Kings Road in Jacksonville made a gruesome discovery. Workers found the remains of seventeen-year-old Jovanna Tyrica Jefferson in a ditch. She had been missing since January 20, 2003.
The police were immediately called to the scene. Shortly after their arrival they discovered the remains of another young woman six feet from where Jovanna's body had been found. The young woman was later identified as a nineteen-year-old mother of two, Surita Ann Cohen, who had been missing since February 4th.
Ron Word of the Associated Press reported that evidence suggested that the girls' hands had been bound behind their backs. There was also evidence that the girls had been sexually abused prior to their deaths. However, one of the most vital clues of the investigation was revealed when witnesses claimed to have seen both Jovanna and Surita with a cab driver prior to their disappearance. Word further stated in his article that it was the cab driver clue that linked the case to a man named Paul Durousseau.

Paul Durousseau
Paul Durousseau was born on August 11, 1970 in Beaumont, Texas and moved around frequently throughout his life. To date, little is known about his childhood. What is known is that Paul had a checkered history including, an extensive police record dating back to 1991.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Paul's first known arrests took place in December 1991 and January 1992 for two separate counts of concealment of firearms in California. Paul then enlisted into the United States Army and was temporarily stationed in Germany. While there he met a twenty-one-year old service woman at a nightclub. The two fell in love and married in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1995.
The two were then transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia. It was there that Paul's legal problems began to re-emerge. He was arrested and later acquitted on charges of the 1997 kidnapping and rape of a young woman. One month following his acquittal, a young woman, Tracy Habersham, was found dead, but for some reason, Paul was not a suspect in the crime. According to Ron Word, Paul was found in possession of stolen goods, which led to a court-martial hearing and his being discharged early from the army.
Paul's legal issues put a tremendous strain on his marriage. Following his dishonorable discharge, Paul found it increasingly difficult to find a job. He worked at a series of temporary positions. Yet, it remained difficult for the couple to make ends meet.
1997 was an eventful year for the struggling couple. They relocated to his wife's hometown of Jacksonville, where they moved into an apartment on Moncrief Road. Soon after they welcomed the birth of a new baby girl into the family, which was quickly followed by the birth of another little girl approximately one year later.
Interviews with friends and neighbors of the couple suggested that they continued to experience tremendous marital strain during the late 1990's. According to an article by Dana Treen, Paul was described by acquaintances as a " lewd womanizer" who often fought with his wife over financial problems, his inability to maintain a job and his adulterous behavior. The article stated that Paul frequently made sexually suggestive comments to area women and attempted to seduce young girls in the neighborhood.
On occasion, the couple's marital spats would escalate to the point of physical violence. The Times-Union wrote:
"in August 1999, police told Durousseau's wife, how to seek a domestic violence restraining order after she told them she was slapped and that her husband tried to grab her around the neck in a fight over finances.
"The first time she petitioned for protection came a year later, when Durousseau "became violently angry when I told him that I was planning to file for a divorce," she wrote.
"The violence was ongoing, she wrote in the 2000 petition, and "I am afraid it will escalate," she said.
The injunction was never granted because Paul and his wife came to an agreement to drop the petition. In fact, the problems had already begun to escalate. A month earlier, Paul had been arrested for trespassing on private property.
Then in March 2001 Paul physically assaulted his wife once again. He put his hands around her neck and threatened to kill her. Another injunction was sought.
Friends felt sorry for his wife, who was a very nice person who both worked and went to school.
According to the Paul Durousseau Timeline provided by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the State Attorney's Office, Paul was then arrested and sentenced to one month in jail and two years' probation for the June 2001 rape of a Jacksonville woman. He was then arrested again for physically abusing his wife in August 2001, for which he spent another month and a half behind bars. Paul's criminal files expanded even more following his arrest in April 2002 for burglary, although he was later acquitted of the charge.
By many accounts Paul had a lengthy police record. However, despite the fact that he was a convicted felon, Paul had no difficulty finding temporary work. In August 2001 he worked for several weeks as a school bus driver, as well as in other temporary positions such as an animal control worker. In January 2003 he also worked for Gator City Taxi, a local Jacksonville cab company.
During his job as a cab driver it was believed that Paul became acquainted with many women, including murder victims Cohen and Jefferson. At the time of their murders, Paul was already a leading suspect in the investigation due to his outstanding police record and clues linking him to some of the victims. One important clue came from Jovanna's mother.
According to a First Coast News article dated June 18, 2003, Jovanna was last seen getting into a cab driven by a man referred to as "D". When Jovanna failed to return home, her aunt called her cell phone, which was answered by the cab driver. The man told the aunt that he would return Jovanna soon, yet she never made it back home.
Worried for her daughter, Jovanna's mother went to the cab company to inquire about the man named "D" who had driven her daughter prior to her disappearance. They quickly learned that the driver was Paul Durousseau. The clue was an important lead, however according to Jacksonville Sheriff Nat Glover there was not enough evidence yet available to charge him.
At around the same time, the strains of an unhappy relationship had already taken their toll on the couple. After approximately eight and a half years of marriage, Paul and his wife separated in January 2003. She and the couple's two girls moved to another house in Jacksonville. According to Dana Treen, Paul continued to live at what was once the family's house on Patterson Avenue. However, he spent the majority of his available time at his wife's new house.
On February 6, 2003 during one of his visits to his wife and children, police arrested Paul. Initially he was not charged in any of the murders, although he was considered a key suspect. Instead he was arrested for violation of his probation for the 2001 rape case. While incarcerated in the Duval County Jail, investigators continued to accumulate evidence linking Paul to the murders. It didn't take long for them to hit "pay dirt".

Incriminating Evidence
During the murder investigation, police began to find clear links between Paul and the deaths of Kilpatrick, Williams, McCalister, Jefferson and Cohen. According to News4Jax.com, evidence including DNA sample matches, fiber analysis, cab and cell phone records could all be traced from the victims and crime scenes to Paul.
Some of the evidence included the fibers from a blanket in which Nicole Williams was found, which were later matched with those found in Paul's home. Furthermore, DNA samples taken from some of the crime scenes and victims matched with samples obtained from Paul. Jewelry belonging to Surita and Jovanna was also found during a search of Paul's car and cell phone records from the two girls showed that they called him prior to their disappearance. Moreover, Times-Union staff writer Veronica Chapin states that a bank surveillance tape showed Shawanda drawing money from an automated machine on the day she died, allegedly with Paul's cab in the background.
One of the unique characteristics that linked the murders was that in most of the cases the killer's M.O. was very similar. News4Jax.com stated that the killer used cords such as extension or coaxial cable cords as a ligature around the victims' necks. Sheriff Nat Glover stated that the killer fashioned the cord into a "peculiar slipknot" during his strangulation of the women.
The evidence increasingly supported the investigators' case against Paul. Finally on June 17, 2003 he was charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Nikia Kilpatrick, Shawanda McAlister, Nicole Williams, Surita Cohen and Jovanna Jefferson. Paul also faced two more counts of child abuse against Nikia's two small children, who were left alone in the apartment for up to two days with the decomposing remains of their mother.
Shortly after his arrest, Paul was linked to yet another murder in Columbus, Georgia that took place several years earlier when he was at Fort Benning. In September 1997, Tracy Habersham went missing after attending a party at Fort Benning's NCO Club. A couple of days following her disappearance, a man walking his dog found her nude body in a ditch in the area where Tracy grew up. She had been strangled. The murder case remained unsolved for years until after Paul's arrest on February 6, 2003.
According to a June 19, 2003 First Coast News article, the profile of Habersham's murder was similar to the deaths of the five Jacksonville victims, prompting a further analysis of the case. DNA samples from Tracy's body were obtained and compared with samples taken from the other murders. Investigators quickly learned that the same person who was responsible for the deaths of the five Jacksonville women and the two unborn children was also responsible for Tracy's murder.
According Fox News, the authorities stated that most of the women had been sexually assaulted. However, they would not reveal if Tracy had also been sexually abused. Ron Word of Associated Press wrote that warrants for Paul's arrest in connection with Tracy's murder were pending in Georgia. It was suggested in the article that if Paul was found guilty of the Florida murders, it was likely that he would never be directly tried for the murder of Tracy.

Building a Case
First Coast News reported on August 26, 2003 that Paul Durousseau had been arrested in the 1999 murder of Tyresa Mack, a mother of three. The DNA at the scene of the crime matched with samples of Durousseau's. Prosecutors believe that they have a very strong case against Durousseau to take to court.
On August 11, prosecutors confirmed that they would seek the death penalty in the trial of Durousseau. The court set his pretrial hearing for mid September.
Several days following his arrest, a grand jury indicted Paul for five counts of first-degree murder and the two counts of child abuse. News4Jax stated that the indictment was essential if the state were to seek the death penalty. State Attorney Harry Shorstein prosecuting the case against Paul was was believed to have welcomed the indictment, which would facilitate his plea for the death penalty at the upcoming trial.
Although Shorstein plans to seek the death penalty, he stated that he will not pursue the matter of fetal rights. According to an article by Paul Pinkham, it is believed that charging Paul with the deaths of the unborn children would likely cause more complications in the case. Shorstein states in the article that pursuing the matter, " would have a tendency to interject an ancilliary issue that could have a negative impact on the legal process down the road".
The Business Journal in Jacksonville reported that the parents of three of the victims have filed suit against Gator City Taxi. The parents' suit contends that their daughters were murdered because the cab company failed to perform an adequate background check when hiring accused serial killer Paul Durousseau to drive a cab.