Loretta Lynn Chaisson Lewis was 28 years old when she was found dead on May 20, 2005. The scene was a canal in rural Jeff Davis parish in Louisiana, and she was seen alive only 72 hours before.
No one knew it at the time, but the discovery of Lewis’ body marked the beginning of a four-year period in which eight women were found dead, the victims of what authorities suspect may be a “common offender.”
The last known victim, Necole Jean Guillory, was found near Interstate 10 in August 2009.
The 13 years since Lewis’ death have been marked with ups and downs for law enforcement and family members. The investigation has drawn national attention, followed by months of little new information. Memorial events for victims have become less frequent.
To this day, no one has been formally charged with the murders of Lewis, Ernestine Daniels Patterson, Kristen Gary Lopez, Whitnei Dubois, Laconia “Muggy” Brown, Crystal Benoit Zeno, Brittney Gary and Guillory.
Police have not given up, said Chief Deputy Christopher Ivey of the Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office. “The sheriff and all who are involved are dedicated to continue to work on these cases until they are cleared,”
Ivey said police still receive tips about the cases. Two new leads recently developed and are being investigated, although Ivey cautioned that hundreds of leads have been cleared over the years that did not result in new information or evidence.
“Under the new sheriff, Ivy Woods, we have a new team of investigators reviewing old case files and interviews. We have a dedicated area for the task force computers, evidence and files,” said Ivey, who was part of the original task force that was formed to investigate the deaths.
Most recently, the murders were the subject of a segment on "The Dr. Oz Show." Ivey said the episode was “not helpful” and upset some of the victims’ family members. He added that no one from the show offered information to help investigators or has access to the evidence being reviewed by new investigators.
Many of the victims knew each other. Some were related. They came from similar backgrounds and lifestyles, often filled with drug abuse. They were known to live and hang out in the south side of Jennings, an area of town known in the 2000s for crime and poverty.
There were other similarities. For the most part, the bodies were found in isolated, rural areas, often near large ditches or drainage canals, in rural Jeff Davis Parish. Guillory’s body was in a more visible area in neighboring Acadia Parish.
“Those girls had their troubles, but we all have our problems,” Jennings resident Mary L. Jenkins told The Daily Advertiser in 2011. “If each one of them could have lived to be as old as we are now, only God knows what they could have been.”
The Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office can be reached by phone at 337-824-3850 or online at jdpso.org.
Source - TheAdvertiser
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by Marlene Pardo Pellicer