ArkLaMiss Mysteries: Who killed the Jeff Davis 8?
Eight women were killed in one small town in south Louisiana between 2005 and 2009. Their killer has never been caught. They're called the Jeff Davis 8, and it's a case that has haunted a community for more than a decade.
There's no easy way to get to Jennings, Louisiana. Small, two lane roads eventually lead you to the small, quiet town. But for years, this town has been hiding a dark secret.
Eight women killed in just four years. Who did it? Well that remains a question without an answer.
In May of 2005, a fisherman found the body of Loretta Chaisson in a creek on the outskirts of town. Later that same year another body was found, this time it was Ernistene Patterson.
"The word was there was a serial killer in Jeff Davis Parish, you know how can that be? It's such a small place," said Ramby Cormier, a detective with the Jefferson Davis Sheriff's Office.
Over the next four years, six more bodies would turn up. Kristen Gary Lopez, Whitnei Dubois, Laconia “Muggy” Brown, Crystal Zeno, Brittney Gary, and Necole Guillory.
"The older a murder case gets, the harder it is to solve," said Ethan Brown, the author of the New York Times Best Selling book "Murder in the Bayou," about the so-called Jeff Davis 8. "You have women who are in the very small world of sex work and addiction, so all eight of the women are certainly connected."
And that is precisely where police started the investigation, by looking into the girls sordid pasts.
"I think its crazy you know I knew all the girls," said Frankie Richard, a well known drug dealer in Jennings.
Richard had relationships with six of the eight victims, and was the last person to see at least two of them alive.
"I have told them everything that I know and that is not a lot when it comes to what happened to them girls," Richard told the local news in an interview after the murders. "God knows I didn't do that."
But while Richard steadfastly denies any involvement, not everyone believes him.
"Is that particularly credible, no he doesn't offer particularly credible explanations," Brown said.
Frankie Richard has never been charged, and in Brown's opinion, this isn't the work of a single killer.
"My belief is that its not one person, that its multiple people," Brown said.
Today law enforcement continues to keep their options open, something they call the duel theory. Which means while they are keeping the serial killer possibility on the table, they are also looking at each case as an individual case.
In his book, Brown alleges mistakes and even possible involvement from law enforcement. Those claims are denied by the sheriff's office.
"Generally though I think there's a resignation that there will be no justice here or that there wont be a conclusion," Brown said.
All these years later, the cases remain unsolved, what some people refer to as cold cases.
"For a few years cold case was the buzz word in law enforcement, those words don't mean anything to the families, they just want it solved, they wanna know who did this," Cormier said.
For the detective, solving this crime is a top priority, even with the challenges that come with a cold case. When asked if he thought this case would ever be solved, he had this to say:
"I never respond to that question... in any case. Ive seen cases that I never thought would be solved that got solved and Ive seen cases where you respond and think everything's there and then nothing."
But today, there are still no answers about who killed the Jeff Davis 8.
Our next ArkLaMiss Mystery will take us to Natchez, Mississippi to investigate a murder unsolved after fifty years. Wharlest Jackson was killed in a car bombing in 1967. but who is responsible for his death is still a mystery today.