This Is How The Bayou Strangler Was Finally Caught

Serial killer Ronald Joseph Dominique was nicknamed "the Bayou Strangler" during his nine-year-long reign of terror. Dominique focused on men and boys in his home state of Louisiana. Starting in 1997 until he was caught and arrested in 2006, he killed a total of 23 people. Per The Seattle Times, Dominique reportedly lived quietly for years with his sister in a trailer park in Houma, Louisiana before moving to a shelter where he was living when arrested. He had previously been arrested seven times and jailed twice over the years for a series of minor offenses, including traffic violations, simple battery, and disturbing the peace. In 1996, he was charged with forcible rape and jailed, but his case never went to trial, as the victim couldn't be found.

According to All That's Interesting, Dominique had coerced a man into coming home with him and then attempted to tie the man up. When the man refused, Dominique got violent and the man escaped through a window. Dominique would later say that this experience inspired him to start murdering his rape victims, as he didn't want to get caught and go back to jail. He targeted houseless men between the ages of 16 to 46, killed via strangulation or asphyxiation, and dumped his victims' bodies in remote locations throughout seven Louisiana parishes.

Dominique's first murder victim, per Murderpedia, was 19-year-old David Mitchell. He repeated his previous pattern — coercing the man to come home with him, although this time he succeeded in tying up Mitchell, after which Dominique raped and murdered him.

Once caught, Dominique confessed to 23 murders

Shortly after authorities found the body of David Mitchell, several law enforcement agencies put together a task force, per the Houston Chronicle. Houma, Louisiana police chief Patrick Boudreaux was among the first to look at the subsequent series of murders as the work of a serial killer, noting that the killings didn't follow the typical pattern of drug-related murders and that several of the victims were found without their shoes. As reported by the Seattle Times, FBI profilers considered this the most significant serial killer case in the United States due to the large number of victims as well as the nine-year time span over which the murders took place.

How was Ronald Dominique caught? One of his victims had refused to let Dominique tie him up and had managed to escape. The individual reported the incident to his parole officer during a weekly visit. According to All That's Interesting, he told the officer that he'd been tied up by an older man who seemed to be ill. Within a short period of time, authorities arrested Dominique, who was apparently "no trouble at all" and willingly gave them a DNA sample. The sample linked him to two of the murders, and Dominique soon confessed to all 23 killings. On September 24, 2008, per the Deseret News, he pleaded guilty to eight murders, all of which had taken place in Terrebonne Parish, in order to avoid receiving a death penalty. He was sentenced to eight consecutive life terms in prison.