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By Susan D. Mustafa Sue Israel
PINNACLE BOOKSCopyright © 2011 Susan D. Mustafa and Sue Israel
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBody on Ben Hur
As they drove along Ben Hur Road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, James Andernann and his girlfriend, Lauren Keller, stared out the car windows and looked for their dog, which had run off that morning. The twenty-year-olds drove slowly past the fields where Louisiana State University's Agriculture Research Station grows a variety of beans and vegetables in an effort to determine the best conditions for growth. Goats and sheep bleated their morning songs on the opposite side of the road, but the couple did not see the dog running among the animals. He had been gone for more than an hour, and although there was not much traffic in this remote area between the more populated Nicholson and Burbank Drives, residents did sometimes use it as a through street, and the couple worried that the dog might have been harmed by a vehicle traveling just a little too fast.
As they approached the bridge that provides access over a small canal, they noticed something that didn't look quite right. They stopped and stared at what appeared to be a naked person on the west bank of the canal, about twenty-five yards from the bridge. From their vantage point, they thought the person didn't seem to be real, so James backed the car off the road and decided to get closer. James and Lauren got out of the car they had parked near an old broken gate and began walking toward the canal to get a better look.
All thoughts of their dog disappeared when they saw the woman. She wasn't moving. From ten feet away, they could see that she was indeed real. And that she was dead.
James hurriedly dialed 911 on his cell phone, and the couple anxiously waited for police to arrive.
It was cool and sunny on the morning of February 27, 2004, when crime scene technician Van Calhoun got the call that a body had been found in the canal on Ben Hur Road. It was still early, only 9:17 A.M., when he arrived.
He had been with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office (EBRSO) for about six years, first working at the parish prison before moving into the Crime Scene Division in May 2002. His job was to document crime scenes with his camera and to process and collect evidence. Throughout his years with the sheriff's office, he had witnessed many murders, but this one seemed more gruesome than most.
The woman has been positioned on her stomach with her buttocks raised slightly in the air. A jacket had been placed over her face and her right arm. Calhoun noticed that her back was covered with abrasions, like she had been dragged down the embankment and placed facing west in the ravine. The canal was littered with debris, and she had been dragged through it.
Her left arm had been severed at the elbow, and a piece of flesh was missing from her right thigh. Trauma to her anus and vagina were evident by the dried blood that surrounded those areas. Calhoun suspected that the killer had wanted her to be seen like this. It was evident from the positioning of her body.
Calhoun roped off the area and began taking photographs and making notes as other detectives arrived on the scene.
He and Lieutenant Terry Felton did a walk-through around the perimeter of the body and onto the south side of Ben Hur Road, west of the canal. They noticed immediately that a set of tire tracks were visible in the field that parallels the canal. The tracks showed that a vehicle had pulled into the field, just past the gate, and then backed up to the incline, where the victim had been dumped. It was there that Calhoun noticed what looked like a piece of cartilage that had been dropped on the ground behind where the tire tracks stopped. He bagged the discarded piece of human tissue and continued his search for clues.
He counted thirteen empty Budweiser Light cans and gathered them as evidence. He then made casts of the tire tracks. After he had completed his search, he returned to the body.
Calhoun carefully removed the jacket that covered the victim's face and saw that blood had spattered on the inside of it. He placed the jacket in a bag and tagged it with the identification code 1VC. He took swabs from the woman's right arm, her wrist, her shoulder, and her buttocks, then rolled her over onto a homicide sheet.
It was then he saw how she had died. Ligature marks encircled her neck, partially hidden by a large slash in her throat. He could see several deep cuts above where the victim's arm had been amputated. Then he saw the cuts to her nipples. The nipple and areola had been completely severed from both of her breasts. It was obvious that her killer had taken his time, had enjoyed his dissection. The absence of blood indicated that the mutilations to her body had occurred postmortem.
After taking more swabs and then fingerprinting her right hand, Calhoun carefully searched the area but could not find any of the woman's missing body parts. He shook his head, disgusted that someone could do something like this.
The woman was placed in a body bag and tagged with the number 0001182.
It was a little after one o'clock that afternoon when Calhoun left the scene to return to his office and store the evidence. He didn't know it then, but the casts he had made of the tire tracks would lead police to the woman's killer—to a serial killer who had been preying on women in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas for almost ten years.
But the police in Baton Rouge were unaware that this serial killer existed or that he had already savagely killed and dismembered seven other women.
As he watched the media coverage of his murders, the killer laughed with the knowledge that he had outwitted police again, that no connection had been made between the eight women he had so viciously mutilated. To him, it was a sick game, and he was always the winner.
Until he killed his last victim, Donna Bennett Johnston.
Chapter TwoFirst Blood
The biker's voice was getting louder as he argued with the scantily clad stripper. He wore a jacket that bore the Sons of Silence logo, a gang known for the quick tempers of its members. Terri Lemoine watched from across the bar, ever aware that things could get nasty at any moment.
The Key Club, located on Plank Road in an area of Baton Rouge known for its prostitutes and easy drug access, was not the best place to work, but Terri loved it. She liked the excitement generated by the dancers and the mostly friendly guys who came there to ogle the girls and live out their sexual fantasies. But sometimes the men were not so friendly, and those were the ones she watched. This one, with the long, dark hair and thick moustache and beard, had an air about him, an air of danger. He looked tough, rougher than most of the bar's regular customers.
Terri was a pretty girl, with straight blond hair and a slender body. She enjoyed the attention men gave her, the flirting, the feeling of being desired. She had been married once and had left the marriage for something a bit more exciting—the nightlife in the capital city of Louisiana. She had been hurt by the men in her life, and Terri was not about to let any man hurt her again. She had developed a tough exterior to hide the frightened, lonely woman who resided behind a great wall erected for self-preservation. Inside that wall lived a woman who had no confidence, no thought other than to go to the bar every night and revel in the attention she got. It was worth the life she had given up—the children who lived with their father or grandparents, the husband who had bored her, the responsibility she did not want or need.
The young woman truly had loved only once—a good-looking, sweet man named Louis Michael Gaar. He had loved her, too. She had felt secure, safe—for the first time in her life—but afterTerri gave birth to his daughter, Christine, Louis suddenly had to go away. Terri missed him terribly, but she was still in her twenties and had a lot of life left to live. She didn't want to miss out on anything.
Then Norbert "Norby" David Dees walked into the bar, and everything changed. Terri watched for a moment as he argued with the stripper, edging closer and closer. When the biker slapped the girl, Terri was ready. She jumped between them.
"Go to the dressing room," she told the girl, who ran off quickly, eager to get away from the man who had hit her.
Terri turned to look at the biker, unafraid, and stared him dead in the eyes. "Does this make you feel like a big man?" she said before turning to walk away.
Norby picked up a pool cue and swung, breaking it across Terri's back.
Terri turned around slowly, carefully. "Have you lost your fucking mind?" she yelled, bending to pick up the half of the stick she could reach.
In a rage, she began hitting him, over and over. Norby tried to ward off the blows, but the jagged edge of the stick kept stabbing at him.
Bleeding from his head and chest, he fell to the floor, but Terri couldn't stop. She hit him again and again. The biker rolled onto his stomach, desperately hoping his back could better take the blows.
Patrons simply watched as Terri kept hitting him. In dives like the Key Club, there's nothing better than a good bar fight, and rarely did anyone get to see a girl beating up a biker, especially one from a gang as notorious as the Sons of Silence.
The dancer whom Terri had been protecting ran from the dressing room, holding a knife. She began stabbing Norby in his back, while Terri continued to hit him with the cue in his head, in his back.
Until he was dead.
The barroom fell silent as realization dawned. The biker wasn't moving, wasn't breathing. The blood from his wounds that saturated the floor had stopped flowing.
Terri backed away, breathing heavily, the weapon still in her hand. The dancer dropped the knife, her hands shaking, her shoulders heaving.
Someone called the police.
Terri and the dancers who worked at the club spent the night of March 13, 1987, at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. The police arrested all of them, but not before saying, "Thanks, girls" as they looked at the gang member lying dead on the floor.
Three days later, after sorting through the stories of witnesses and interviewing the girls, Terri and the others were released but ordered by police to "find another profession." Norby's death was deemed self-defense.
To this day, more than twenty years later, Terri carries photos in her wallet of Norbert Dees bleeding on the floor of that barroom. The photo of the man she killed—her reminder that she would never again let a man mistreat her.
Chapter ThreeAnn Bryan
St. James Place, located on a long stretch of road known as Lee Drive near Louisiana State University (LSU), was the first upscale retirement facility built in Louisiana. Situated on fifty-two acres decorated with lush landscaping and oak trees more than two hundred years old, this land was originally part of the Duplantier Plantation. Old Southern charm once seeped through the porches and walls of the rambling plantation house whose adjoining structures housed slaves named Abraham, Isaac, Jean Baptiste, Hercules, and Samson. Elegance and grace, long past, had left their mark on the grounds, where the elderly now sit and sip tea or enjoy a leisurely stroll punctuated with the steady whistling of crested wood ducks along pathways lined with sweeping branches that shade their way.
What had begun as a vision of parishioners at St. James Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge had turned into a sprawling luxury home for seniors who wanted to enjoy their golden years surrounded by friends and family. Built in 1983, the retirement facility provided an atmosphere of fun and happiness where residents could dance to Cajun music on a portable wooden dance floor, enjoy crawfish boils on lazy summer days, or enjoy private parties catered on site. This innovative approach to retirement was wildly successful, and it wasn't long before the facility was filled to capacity and bustling with activity. Seniors there made friends by participating in a variety of activities, like Ping-Pong, arts and crafts, woodworking, and golf. Healthy living was stressed by the staff, and seniors were afforded the best in health care and exercise facilities that catered to longevity. For those who lived there, life couldn't have been better.
Across the street, a Circle K convenience store provided easy access to milk and bread and snacks. Seniors often made the short walk to the store to pick up small items they might need during the week. Many were not aware that the store had a history of being robbed, as those robberies often happened at night when they were safely sleeping in their comfortable beds. Terri Lemoine knew about the robberies, though. She had experienced them firsthand, at gunpoint, seven times to be exact, but she continued to work the night shift, liking the slower pace better than the nonstop stream of customers who stopped to get gas and cigarettes during the day.
Back then, there were no gates to limit access in or out of the retirement facility. Anyone could walk along the sidewalks that led to individual wings that housed numerous apartments. From the windows inside the Circle K, Terri could watch people come and go at St. James Place when she was bored, although the traffic in and out became minimal as night progressed.
Today, large wrought-iron gates and wooden fencing around the facility prevent access. No longer can anyone view the beautiful grounds from the street. A guard in the guard station at the entrance stops every vehicle that approaches and asks drivers for identification and a reason for being on the property. For those visiting residents, a call must be made to ensure that the visitor is welcome. Security is very tight at St. James Place, but there's good reason for that. In 1994, administrators of the facility learned the hard way that extra security measures must be in place for the protection of their elderly residents.
When Ann Bryan chose St. James Place as her new home, she had thought she was safe. In 1990, she had fallen and broken her left shoulder and could not use her arm or hand. For most people, that would be an inconvenience, but for the lovely woman whose face did not bear the usual signs of aging, the fall had been devastating. She had been born without a right hand, and this accident had left her incapable of caring for herself.
Ann had never been one to let the lack of a hand stop her from doing anything. Throughout her life, she had always painted—beautiful still lifes of the magnolias that could be found everywhere in Louisiana, and occasionally a bowl of colorful fruit. She also played piano and had learned to drive when automatic transmissions made it possible to drive using only one hand. Even though these activities were more difficult for her than for others, she had a creative streak that could not be stemmed by her handicap. She resolutely worked around it.
Born in 1911, Ann moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU when she was only sixteen. She had graduated high school early, salutatorian of her class. At first, she was very homesick for her family, and sometimes she cried at night when she missed them. One night, the dean of women saw her sitting alone and crying; she asked her why.
"I want to go home," Ann said between sniffles.
At that moment, the dean spotted another student, William Paul Bryan, walking across the campus. She stopped him and asked him to comfort the young girl, hoping that he would be able to cheer up Ann. William was very comforting, but Ann went home that night and cried again. This time, because she only had one hand. She knew that the sweet young man would never be interested in her. Ann was wrong.
The next morning, William was waiting for her. The slender girl with the beautiful skin and dark hair had captured his heart through her tears. He asked if she would go out with him to the picture show. Ann was delighted, but her parents had always warned her never to get in a car with someone she didn't know.
"How will we get there?" she asked.
Excerpted from DISMEMBERED by Susan D. Mustafa Sue Israel Copyright © 2011 by Susan D. Mustafa and Sue Israel. Excerpted by permission of PINNACLE BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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