Authorities broaden description of suspected Louisiana serial k

Saturday, March 22, 2003

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Police broadened the description Friday of the serial killer who has slain five Louisiana women over the past 18 months, saying an earlier profile of a white man may be inaccurate.

Southern Louisiana residents should "broaden their thinking about this offender and consider that this person could possibly be a dark-complected white male, a man of mixed heritage or a black male," police spokeswoman Cpl. Mary Ann Godawa said. "Tips should not be screened solely on the basis of race."

DNA evidence links one man to the slayings of five women in Baton Rouge and Lafayette over the past year and a half. Police earlier this week linked the fifth victim, Louisiana State University graduate student Carrie Yoder.

Investigators questioning people in Yoder's neighborhood received "critical new information" that led authorities to broaden the description of the killer, Godawa said. She declined to say whether anyone gave a specific description of the suspect.

Godawa said "a few" tips could have been lost because residents were on the lookout for a white male.

"They've missed opportunities definitely. They missed more than a few," said state Rep. Yvonne Welch, who has spearheaded an effort to raise awareness of the serial killer and promote safety tips to women.

"It could be anyone. How many tips have they missed because people were looking for a white guy?" she said after attending Friday's press briefing.

FBI officials did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Authorities investigating last fall's sniper shootings in the Washington, D.C., area did not release a racial profile, although there had been widespread speculation that white males were involved. The two suspects arrested are black.

Godawa said investigators are continuing to apply non-racial information from the FBI profile of the serial killer. The profile said he is between the ages of 25 and 35, earns an average to below-average income in the Baton Rouge area and works in a job requiring physical strength.

The profile says the killer probably has a hard time interacting with women and probably stalked the women before he killed them.

Police released a sketch of a white male, known as a "person of interest" in the case, in December. Godawa said that person never has been classified as a suspect.

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