The Baton Rouge Killer Had A Seriously Messed Up Childhood

Derrick Todd Lee, who is most widely known as the Baron Rouge killer, was arrested on May 27, 2003, and charged with the murder of 26-year-old Carrie Lynn Yoder. As reported by WBRZ, Yoder, who was a student at Louisiana State University, was abducted from her dorm room on March 3, 2003. Ten days later, her battered body was found in Whiskey Bay. Authorities confirmed she was physically and sexually assaulted before she was ultimately strangled to death.

Yoder was one of six women who were abducted, assaulted, and killed in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana, between May 31, 2002 and March 3, 2003. A seventh woman, Diane Alexander, was attacked inside her home by an intruder on July 9, 2002. Although the intruder attempted to rape and strangle Alexander, he ran from the scene when the woman's son unexpectedly arrived home.

Alexander was injured in the assault. However, none of her wounds were fatal, and she provided authorities with a description of her attacker. Using Alexander's information, WBRZ reports law enforcement officials made a composite sketch and were eventually able to identify Lee as a suspect.

Authorities collected a DNA sample from Lee, which matched the DNA recovered while investigating the Baton Rouge murders. As reported by WBRZ, the DNA linked Lee to the murders of Trineisha Dene Colomb, Gina Wilson Green, Geralyn DeSoto, Pam Kinamore, Charlotte Murray Pace, and Carrie Lynn Yoder.

Derrick Todd Lee's mother was only 17 when he was born

The Baton Rouge killer was ultimately tried for only two of the murders he committed. As reported by The Advocate, Derrick Todd Lee was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Geralyn DeSoto on August 10, 2004, and sentenced to life in prison. Two months later, he was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Charlotte Murray Pace and sentenced to death.

According to The Advocate, the serial killer died of natural causes related to heart disease on January 21, 2016. At the time of his death, Lee, 47, was being housed on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.

In the years following his arrest, information about the Baton Rouge killer's past, including his childhood, came to light. Although his past does not excuse Lee's behavior, it provides some insight into who he was and what led up to his becoming a serial killer.

Lee was born to Samuel Ruth and Florence Lee on November 5, 1968, in St. Francisville, Louisiana. According to the book, "Blood Bath," by Susan D. Mustafa, Tony Clayton, and Sue Israel, Florence was only 17 when her son was born. She and Samuel lived with her mother at the time. Although Samuel and Florence were only together for a couple of years and never married, they also had a daughter named Tarisha. Samuel was not listed as the father on either child's birth certificate and the couple split soon after the Tarisha was born. 

Derrick Todd Lee was raised in a Christian home

Florence Lee's separation from Samuel Roth was probably for the best. According to "Blood Bath," Roth had "severe" mental health issues and was ultimately arrested and charged with attempted manslaughter in 1991.

Following her separation from Roth, Florence married Coleman Barrow. In addition to being a hard worker, Barrow treated Florence's children as though they were his own. As stated in "Blood Bath," Florence and her new husband were both religious and they raised Derrick Todd Lee and his sister in a Christian home, though physical punishment doled out by Barrow seemed to be the norm, according to The Radford University Department of Psychology.

Lee and his sister also grew up surrounded by family, as many of their aunts, uncles, and cousins lived in the same neighborhood –- which was known locally as "Lee's Quarters." According to "Blood Bath," Lee was especially close with his cousin Ray, who he enjoyed playing sports, including baseball and basketball, with. He and Ray also both played the drums in their school's marching band.  

On the surface, Derrick Todd Lee's childhood seemed idyllic. However, some disturbing issues began to surface in his early childhood and teens.

Derrick Todd Lee was arrested for the first time at age 13

The Radford University Department of Psychology reports Derrick Todd Lee was "severely and frequently" physically abused by his stepfather. Upon entering school, it was determined that Lee was developmentally challenged and he was subsequently placed in special education classes. According to reports, Lee was often ridiculed by his classmates. In addition to teasing him for being developmentally challenged, the other children would taunt him for sucking his thumb and calling his teacher "momma."

According to Radford University, Lee began exhibiting behavioral issues as a child and a pre-teen. In addition to physically harming his pet dog and her puppies, Lee began peeping into his neighbors' windows at a very young age. He also developed a habit of denying his bad behavior and refusing to accept responsibility for his actions.

Lee was arrested for the first time at the age of 13. According to "Blood Bath," the teen burglarized a local candy store called "Sweet Shop." Although he pleaded guilty, he avoided detention and was instead sentenced to probation. Later that same year, Radford University reports he physically attacked a neighbor when she confronted him about peeping in her windows.

At the age of 16, Lee pulled a knife on another teen during a physical altercation. He was subsequently arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder. However, as stated in "Blood Bath," the charges were ultimately dismissed.

Derrick Todd Lee may have committed his first murder at age 23

When he was 16, Derrick Todd Lee intentionally set fire to his car so he could collect the insurance money. Between the ages of 16 and 23, the Radford University Department of Psychology reports Lee was arrested on multiple charges including trespassing and disturbing the peace. However, the charges were often reduced and he was never incarcerated for the crimes.

Although it has never been proven, it is believed that Lee committed his first murder in 1992, at the age of 23. As reported by WAFB9, Connie Warner vanished from her home on August 22, 1992. While searching her residence, authorities discovered signs of violent attack, including blood in several different rooms. As her vehicle was still parked outside, they concluded her body was removed from the scene by her attacker.

Two weeks after she was reported missing, Warner's body was found near Capitol Lake. Although no evidence was ever found linking Lee to the crime, authorities noted Warner lived in the same subdivision as Randi Mebruer -– who was reported missing in 1998 and whose disappearance was linked to Lee via DNA. Authorities also noted Warner was the first of numerous women killed in the Baton Rouge area between 1992 and 2003, and were later linked to Lee.

According to author Susan D. Mustafa, Lee was linked to a total of seven victims by DNA. However, he is suspected in the disappearances and deaths of at least 10 others.