Paul Durousseau, the Jacksonville Serial Killer
During the murder investigation, police began to find clear links between Durousseau and the deaths of Kilpatrick, Williams, McCalister, Jefferson and Cohen. According to News4Jax.com, evidence including DNA sample matches, fiber analysis, cab and cell phone records could all be traced from the victims and crime scenes to Paul Durousseauf.
Some of the evidence included the fibers from a blanket in which Nicole Williams was found, which were later matched with those found in Durousseau's home. Furthermore, DNA samples taken from some of the crime scenes and victims matched with samples obtained from Durousseau. Jewelry belonging to Surita and Jovanna was also found during a search of his car and cell phone records from the two girls showed that they called him prior to their disappearance. Moreover, Times-Union staff writer Veronica Chapin states that a bank surveillance tape showed Shawanda drawing money from an automated machine on the day she died, allegedly with Durousseau's cab in the background.
One of the unique characteristics that linked the murders was that in most of the cases the killer's M.O. was very similar. News4Jax.com stated that the killer used cords such as extension or coaxial cable cords as a ligature around the victims' necks. Sheriff Nat Glover stated that the killer fashioned the cord into a "peculiar slipknot" during his strangulation of the women.
The evidence increasingly supported the investigators' case against Durousseau. Finally on June 17, 2003 he was charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Nikia Kilpatrick, Shawanda McAlister, Nicole Williams, Surita Cohen and Jovanna Jefferson. Durousseau also faced two more counts of child abuse against Nikia's two small children, who were left alone in the apartment for up to two days with the decomposing remains of their mother.
Shortly after his arrest, Durousseau was linked to yet another murder in Columbus, Georgia. that took place several years earlier when he was at Fort Benning. In September 1997, Tracy Habersham went missing after attending a party at Fort Benning's NCO Club. A couple of days following her disappearance, a man walking his dog found her nude body in a ditch in the area where Tracy grew up. She had been strangled. The murder case remained unsolved for years until after Durousseau's arrest on February 6, 2003.
According to a June 19, 2003 First Coast News article, the profile of Habersham's murder was similar to the deaths of the five Jacksonville victims, prompting a further analysis of the case. DNA samples from Tracy's body were obtained and compared with samples taken from the other murders. Investigators quickly learned that the same person who was responsible for the deaths of the five Jacksonville women and the two unborn children was also responsible for Tracy's murder.
According Fox News, the authorities stated that most of the women had been sexually assaulted. However, they would not reveal if Tracy had also been sexually abused. Ron Word of the Associated Press wrote that warrants for Durousseau's arrest in connection with Tracy's murder were pending in Georgia. It was suggested in the article that if Durousseau was found guilty of the Florida murders, it was likely that he would never be directly tried for Tracy's murder.