The case of Louisiana serial murder suspect Derrick Todd Lee is one of apparent lifelong lawlessness. The Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge reports that victims, law enforcement officers and the public alike are asking the same question: How could a teenage Peeping Tom who graduated to abuse and perhaps rape and murder have eluded justice for so long?
“The criminal justice system failed in the case of Derrick Todd Lee,” said Cecile Guin, a forensic social worker with the Louisiana State University School of Social Work. “Everybody — his family, his neighbors, law enforcement and even the judicial system knew there was something wrong with this guy. And no one was proactive enough to get him off the streets.”
The newspaper recounts a case in with the then-15-year-old Lee climbed up a pole to get a better view inside a second-floor apartment. The young woman living there caught a glimpse of him, called police, and he was caught.
Inside just the St. Francisville courthouse, there are eight manila folders of criminal cases bearing the same name in various forms: Derrick Lee, Derrick T. Lee, Derrick Todd Lee. Though the crimes vary, each one tells much the same story: Over and over, Lee appeared in municipal court for misdemeanors. Over and over again, the cases were dismissed, or he pleaded guilty and paid a small fine.