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Ronald Joseph DOMINIQUE






A.K.A.: "The Bayou serial killer"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - He did not want to return to jail after raping the men
Number of victims: 8 - 23
Date of murders: 1997 - 2006
Date of arrest: December 1, 2006
Date of birth: January 9, 1964
Victims profile: Kenneth Randolph / Michael Barnett / Leon Lirette / August Watkins / Kurt Cunningham / Alonzo Hogan / Chris Deville / Wayne Smith / Nicholas Pellegrin (men aged between 16 to 46 years
Method of murder: Strangulation - Suffocation
Location: Louisiana, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty to eight murders. Sentenced to eight life sentences in prison on September 23, 2008

photo gallery


Ronald Joseph Dominique (born 1964) is an American serial killer from the Bayou Blue area of Houma, which is in Terrebonne Parish in southeastern Louisiana.

Following his arrest on December 1, 2006, Dominique confessed to the rape and murder of at least 23 men over a ten-year period beginning in 1997, in Terrebonne Parish, Lafourche Parish, Iberville Parish and Jefferson Parish in suburban New Orleans. He has been charged with multiple cases of rape and first-degree murder. Dominique is suspected of killing 23 men.

In his confession, Dominique, who is reportedly gay, said he frequented area gay bars and targeted men he thought would be willing to have sex for money.

He was investigated following a police report by a man who refused to let Dominique tie him up. The most recent victim, Christoper Sutterfield, had died about two months earlier.

On September 23, 2008, Dominique was sentenced to eight life sentences after confessing to raping and killing his male victims over a ten-year period. Dominique had pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in a deal to avoid the death penalty. He is incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.


Serial killer Ronald Dominique jailed

September 24, 2008

A serial killer has received eight consecutive life sentences after pleading guilty to eight murders in a decade-long spree in which he may have taken the lives of more than 20 men.

Ronald Dominique, 44, bowed his head as a judge read out the names of eight young men he confessed to raping and killing over a 10-year period in Louisiana, the Associated Press reports.

"The lives of eight young men were taken from these families by the actions of the defendant," Assistant District Attorney Mark Rhodes said before sentencing.

"He knew nothing about them or their families and he callously killed the victims and left a lifetime of pain as their legacy."

Dominique lived about 95km from New Orleans in Bayou Blue and was arrested in December 2006.

At the time, authorities said he confessed to raping about two dozen young men, then strangling or suffocating them, AP reports. He has so far only been tried for eight of the murders.

Members of the victims' families were in the court for the sentencing, television station WWLTV reported.

Chris Cunningham told his brother's killer: “I hope he burns in hell, pretty much. I hope the man burns in hell. I'm sure he will.”

Dominique pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in a deal to avoid the death penalty.

"I told the families of the victims I was confident we could get a guilty verdict on all eight counts," Mr Rhodes said.

"I was confident we could get the death penalty on all eight counts. I was also confident it would be tied up in appeals for 12 to 15 years or more." 

Dominique picked up men off the side of the road or other places, propositioning them himself or luring them into his car with the promise of drugs or sex with a fictitious woman, Huoma Today reported.

Dominique raped the men if they allowed themselves to be tied up, then suffocated or strangled them before dumping their bodies, which were found in cane fields and near remote bayous.

“The nature of what he did, and how he left my brother’s body in a cane field for rodents to eat at him,” said Cynthia Barabin, sister of victim Chris Deville.

“When we found him he was nothing. Nothing … We had to bury bones.”

Dominique's lawyer Richard Goorley said it was whether his client  would ever stand trial in any of those cases.

“Hopefully, they will realise that when someone gets sentenced to eight consecutive life sentences, there's no chance of them ever getting out and any further pursuit of any other charges will be a complete waste of taxpayers' money,”  Mr Goorley said.


Killed 23 Men to Avoid Prison

Ronald J. Dominique of Houma, LA has confessed to murdering 23 men over the past nine years and dumping their bodies in sugarcane fields, ditches and small bayous in six southeast Louisiana parishes. His reason for killing? He did not want to return to jail after raping the men.

The First Victims

In 1997, authorities found 19-year-old David Levron Mitchell's murdered body near Hahnville. The body of 20-year-old Gary Pierre was found in St. Charles Parish six months later. In July 1998, the body of 38-year-old Larry Ranson was found in St. Charles Parish.

Over the next nine years, more bodies of men ranging in age from 19 to 40 would be found dumped in sugarcane fields, desolate bayous and in ditches in remote areas. Similarities in 23 of the murders lead investigators to suspecting the men were victims of a serial killer.

The Task Force

A task force made up of nine south Louisiana parish sheriff's offices, the Louisiana State Police and the FBI, was formed in March 2005, to investigate the murders. Investigators knew the 23 victims were mostly homeless men, many who led high-risk lifestyles, which included drug use and prostitution. The victims had been asphyxiated or strangled, some raped and several were barefooted.

The Arrest

After receiving a tip, authorities armed with forensic evidence, arrested Ronald Dominique, 42, and charged him with the murder and rape of 19-year-old Manuel Reed and 27-year-old Oliver Lebanks. Just days before his arrest, Dominique had moved from his sister's home into the Bunkhouse shelter in Houma, LA. Residents of the home described Dominique as odd, but no one suspected he was a killer.

Dominique Confesses to 23 Murders

Soon after his arrest, Dominique confessed to murdering 23 southeast Louisiana men. His tactics in capturing, sometimes raping then murdering the men was simple. He would lure homeless men with the promise of sex in exchange for money. Sometimes he would tell the men he wanted to pay them to have sex with his wife, and then show a picture of an attractive woman. Dominique was not married.

Dominique then lead the men to his home, asked to tie them up, then raped and eventually murdered the men to avoid arrest. In his statement to the police, Dominique said the men who refused to be tied up would leave his home unharmed. Such was the case with one unnamed man who a year ago, reported the incident to the task force, a tip that eventually led to Dominique's arrest.

Who Is Ronald Dominique?

Ronald Dominique spent much of his youth in the small bayou community of Thibodaux, LA. Thibodaux sits between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and is the type of community where everyone knows a little about each other.

He attended Thibodaux High School where he was in the glee club and sang in the chorus. Classmates who remember Dominique say he was ridiculed about being homosexual during his teen years, but at the time he never admitted he was gay.

As he got older he seemed to live in two worlds. There was the Dominique who was helpful to his neighbors in the small trailer parks where he lived. Then there was the Dominique who cross-dressed and did bad impersonations of Patti LaBelle at the local gay club. Neither world embrace him and among the gay community, many remember him as someone who was not particularly well liked.

Through most of his adulthood, Dominique struggled financially and would end up living with his mother or other relatives. In the weeks before his arrest, he was living with his sister in a singlewide trailer. He was suffering from declining health, having been hospitalized for a severe heart condition and forced to use a cane to walk.

Outwardly, there was side to Dominique who enjoyed helping people. He joined the Lions Club just months before his arrest, and spent Sunday afternoons calling out Bingo numbers to senior citizens. The membership director said he was well liked by everyone he had met through the Lions Club. Maybe Dominique had finally found a place he felt accepted.

What sparked Dominique to move from the comfort of his sister's home to the dismal surroundings of a shelter for the homeless is uncertain. Some suspect the family grew uncomfortable by the 24-hour police surveillance and Dominique, knowing he was soon to be caught, moved away to avoid getting his family involved in his arrest.

A Criminal History

Dominique's past arrests include forcible rape, disturbing the peace and telephone harassment.

·     Feb. 10, 2002 - Arrested in Terribonne Parish after he allegedly slapped a woman during a Mardi Gras parade. According to the reports, Dominique accused a woman of hitting a baby stroller in a parking lot. The woman apologized, but Dominique continued to verbally assault her and then slapped her across the face. He was arrested but entered a parish offender's program instead of standing trial. Reports show he met all his conditions in the program in October 2002.

·     May 19, 2000 - He received a summons to appear in court on disturbing the peace charges. Since it was a misdemeanor, he was able to plead guilty and pay a fine to avoid appearing in court.

·     Aug. 25, 1996 - Dominique was arrested on forcible rape charges and booked on a $100,000 bond. According to neighbors, a partially dressed young man escaped from the window of Dominique's home in Thibodaux, screaming that he had tried to kill him. When the case was brought to court, the victim could not be found to testify. In November 1996, the judge continued the case indefinitely.

·     May 15, 1994 - Arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and speeding.

·     June 12, 1985 - Arrested and charged with telephone harassment. He pleaded guilty, paid a $74 fine and court costs.

Three days after Dominique's arrest for killing Mitchell and Pierre, investigators said Dominique confessed to 21 other murders, giving details only the killer would know. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty when Dominique goes to trial. Many wonder, with his current health issues, if he'll live long enough to go to trial.


Ronald J. Dominique: Just an Ordinary Joe

By Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.

While media sources profess apparent surprise that the latest serial killer to hit the headlines seems an unlikely candidate, in fact, the alleged murderer of twenty-three males in Louisiana is actually fairly typical, for several reasons: he blended in, he deflected attention with a deceptive persona, and he selected victims who might not be missed.  He resembles many other serial killers who targeted men.

Ronald J. Dominique, overweight and seemingly unhealthy, behaves just as we might expect from a sexual predator who wants to continue doing what he's doing.  He seems inoffensive, non-threatening, and even meek.  People who knew him thought he was just an ordinary guy.  That's precisely why no one would suspect him and just as precisely why he might utilize this manner: Sexual predators want their victims to trust them and they want to keep flying under the radar.

Like many serial killers, Dominique, 42, pulled his victims from marginalized groups, reportedly selecting wayward kids and homeless people between 1997 and 2005, thereby avoiding the type of urgent investigation that would be engaged for, say, the disappearance of a senator's son.  His victims ranged in age from 16 to 46.  With a smooth manner and a conversationalist's style, says Sheriff Jerry Larpenter, he persuaded his victims to have sex for money, usually back at his camper trailer.  But there was a condition.

Once at the destination, these men had to agree to be bound; if a gay encounter, it was just part of the ritual that Dominique required; if the targeted victim was heterosexual, then Dominique supposedly had promised him sex with a nonexistent wife, who was "shy" and wanted her partners to be tied.  Then once the victim was willingly bound, he was helpless.  Dominique would rape him, strangle or smother him, and then dump his bound body in one of six jurisdictions in southern Louisiana. (At least one family disputes this account, provided by the sheriff to the press, insisting that their loved one who fell victim was not homeless, homosexual or easily led; they believe he'd been drugged.)

It was this ploy, which had worked for eight years, which eventually led to Dominique's arrest.

Another Act?

The case broke when an ex-con mentioned to his parole officer that he'd encountered a man who had wanted to tie him up as part of a sexual tryst with the man's wife.  The ex-con went to the trailer, but got spooked and left.  Given the number of bound homeless victims the police had found in the area, this seemed like a good lead.  With a description of the trailer and its location, investigators found it and then traced Dominique, who'd recently left, to a homeless shelter in Houma.

When approached, he voluntarily provided a DNA sample, which connected him to two Jefferson Parish murders.  Yet he walked with a cane and complained of a serious heart condition that had caused several heart attacks in recent months.  It's possible this is yet another ploy he'd devised while awaiting eventual arrest.  Serial killer John George Haigh had been thus prepared, instantly offering an invented mental illness to mitigate his crimes, in the hope of getting into a psychiatric institution.  But the police are already aware that Dominique might be faking his condition, and they've continued to add more charges.

Dominique shares with many serial killers a criminal record for other types of offenses.  According to Forbes, investigators said that over the years, Dominique had been charged at least seven times, mostly for minor offenses such as traffic violations, battery and disturbing the peace.  He had been arrested for forcible rape in 1996, going to jail for three months, but the victim disappeared so charges were dropped.  He didn't like sitting in a prison cell and apparently decided to be more careful: Killing his rape victims ensured their silence.  Given the high victim toll, however, it appears that he also just enjoyed having power over another male.

Dominique resembles another sexual predator who managed to kill for over a decade before finally being stopped. Andrei Chikatilo, the "Rostov Ripper," a mild-mannered former school teacher with few social skills, had a similar MO.  He would hang out in train stations, looking for children who might be runaways or truants, and unlikely to be missed.  He killed 56 women and children (including boys) before the police finally figured out his trick and trapped him in 1990.

Midwesterner Herb Baumeister, too, picked up young men in gay bars during the 1990s who then disappeared. He'd take them to his home and strangle them during sex, disposing of the corpses of at least eleven victims in the woods on his property.  But Baumeister was married, with a family, so his secretive life was somewhat constrained.

Dominique, single and reportedly gay, might have been closer in style to Jeffrey Dahmer or Dennis Nilsen, picking up male victims in bars by engaging them in disarming conversations before taking them home to die.  It's not yet clear whether Dominique killed to feel more powerful or just to ensure that his rape victims wouldn't identify him, but what is clear is that, once in custody, he was quite open about what he'd done.

That behavior, too, is not unexpected. Nilsen and Dahmer confessed for hours after their respective arrests.  So did John Wayne Gacy, who brought young men to his home, gave them drugs and alcohol, and persuaded them to let him try the "rope trick" on them.  Once bound, they belonged to him and he killed thirty-three. (He later insisted he'd killed no one.)

But we must ask, can Dominique's version of events be trusted?  Just because an alleged serial killer confesses, and even matches the crime details, does not mean he's telling the full truth.  Dominique exploited trust to get victims, and he may well be using his charming manner to lull investigators into accepting his tale.  He might not even be mild-mannered and meek, or sickly.  His narrative aside, we can certainly tell from his behavior that he's been an aggressive serial killer who had the strength to strangle men and carry their bodies to remote dumping grounds.  Used to living a double life, he's likely to lie even as he confesses, to spin stories his own way.  While investigators might report what he says to them, we should all take these details with a grain of salt. Like they say, beware of the quiet ones.


Alleged gay serial killer arrested

Louisiana man confesses to raping, killing as many as 23 men over last 10 years; confession stuns community

By David Webb -

December 7, 2006

A gay Louisiana man's confession this week that he raped and killed at least 23 men over a 10-year period has left the LGBT community in the state's bayou land stunned and concerned about public reaction.

Police arrested Ronald Joseph Dominique, 42, of Blue Bayou, on Dec. 1, on charges he murdered two men in Jefferson Parish in 1998 and 1999. In subsequent interrogations Dominique confessed to those murders and 21 others, including nine in Terrebonne Parish alone.

A task force has been investigating the string of unsolved murders that began in 1997. The victim's bodies left in various stages of undress have been found in the parishes of Terrebonne, Lafourche and Iberville and in suburban New Orleans.

Most of the victims were asphyxiated.

Wayne Beasley, who met Dominique in a Houma gay bar in 1998 and occasionally played pool with the confessed serial killer, said members of southeast Louisiana's gay community are spooked by the realization that someone they knew could have committed such horrific crimes.

"It gives you the sensation of ewww," said Beasley, who was a 23-year-old oil field worker and had just come out when he met Dominique. "I guess that's the best way to describe it. Like, I can't believe I was shooting pool next to someone who turned out to be a serial killer."

Beasley said the sensation is intensified by the recollection that Dominique seemed to be coming on to him. His disinterest in leaving the bar with the confessed killer may have saved his life, he said.

At the time Beasley met Dominique, the killings had already begun.

In the wake of the recent media coverage, all of Houma's gay community which is described as cohesive but not visible is struggling to come to grips with the revelation they socialized with a serial killer, Beasley said.

"I talked with a friend of mine, and he put it the best I have heard it," Beasley said. "It's a black eye for the gay community. I've talked to several people who have met him and know him. That pretty much sums it up a black eye."

The owner of the Drama Club, the gay bar Dominique frequented when it was known as Kixx, said he could not recall meeting the confessed killer, but he remembers one of the victims.

"It's eerie," said Randy Chesnut, who is a former Lafayette Police Department detective. "It's hard to believe. This is the sort of thing you think of happening in New Orleans or Dallas, but not here."

Chesnut said when police officers showed him pictures of the victims, he recognized one of them as someone who had recently visited the bar. He suspected the young man was a hustler, the bar owner said.

Police identified the young man as 21-year-old Christopher Sutter-field, who was found dead in Iberville Parish about two months ago.

Chesnut said many of his customers remember Dominique, but he was not well liked.

Although his customers were aware of the investigation of the murders before Dominique's arrest, most felt little concern about their safety because they felt they did not match the profile of the victims, he said.

"I never heard anyone say they were worried about becoming a victim," Chesnut said.

Dominique has confessed to targeting men who were alone and walking or riding a bicycle. He apparently approached men he thought would be willing to engage in sexual activity in exchange for money.

"They tended to be people who lived on the fringe," Chesnut said. "They were the kind who were willing to do anything for a dollar."

Law enforcement investigators said Dominique told them he picked up men with the intention of raping them after he tied them up. He killed them to prevent them from pressing charges against him, the officers said.

Dominique, who has never been married, told investigators that if the men appeared to be straight, he would show them a picture of a woman he claimed was his wife. He allegedly told the men he was looking for a sex partner for his wife.

According to the investigators, once Dominique took the victims home, he asked for permission to tie them up. If the victims refused, he let them go but if they agreed, they were raped and murdered, the investigators said.

He allegedly disposed of the bodies in remote areas he learned about working in jobs such as delivering pizza and reading utility meters.

Dominique told investigators he made the decision to kill his victims after raping them because he spent three months in jail in 1996 after he was accused of rape by a man in Thibodaux. The victim disappeared while Dominique was in jail, and prosecutors dropped the charges because he was not available to testify in the trial.

The people who knew Dominique are having difficulty reconciling what they are reading in the newspaper and hearing on television with the individual they encountered in Houma's gay bar, Beasley said. Although no one liked him much, Dominique seemed harmless, he said.

"He and I got along pretty well," Beasley said. "To me, he seemed like an ok guy, but you could tell he was a little off. You could tell that there was definitely something different about him."

"From what I gather, he was kind of an outcast. He wasn't popular in the gay community."

Beasley said Dominique drank little and apparently was not a drug user.

Chesnut said he has heard people in the gay community referred to Dominique as "Miss Moped" because he won one of the vehicles in a contest at a McDonald's and used it for transportation.

"I think he was teased a lot," Chesnut said.

Beasley said he last saw Dominique in about 1999.

"I only knew him in the bar," Beasley said. "He was going to the bar, and then all of a sudden he didn't go out at all."

Dominique had been living in a camper in Bayou Blue on property owned by his mother and sister.

He checked into a homeless center in Houma two days before his arrest, apparently because he became aware of police officers' observation of him.

Investigators said a man who refused to let Dominique tie him up had mentioned the incident to his parole officer. The man could not remember the address, but he led investigators to where Dominique lived. Investigators put Dominique's face in a line-up, and the witness picked him out.

Investigators said a DNA swab Dominique allowed them to take matched the two cases for which he was originally charged.

Dominique is charged with multiple cases of aggravated rape and first-degree murder. A Terrebonne Parish judge has set bail at $1 million for each case in which he has been charged in that parish, for a total of $8 million. Charges in other parishes are pending.

Prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty.

The concern that a serial killer was responsible for the deaths of the men was first raised by law enforcement officers in 2005.


Bond for 'Bayou Strangler' Ronald Joseph Dominique Set at $8 Million

By Chuck Hustmyre

December 6, 2006

Houma, La. (Crime Library)  — Accused serial killer Ronald Joseph Dominique appeared in a Terrebonne Parish courtroom Tuesday via a video linkup and listened as a judge set his bond at $8 million.

State District Judge George Larke set a bond of $1 million for each of the eight murder and rape cases Dominique was formally charged with this week. Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said the paperwork for the ninth case will probably be filed Wednesday. Dominique will then be entitled to another bond hearing for that case and will likely have another million dollar bond tacked on to the other eight the judge already set.

Police arrested Dominique Friday at a homeless hostel and charged him with first-degree murder, aggravated rape, and second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of two men whose bodies were found in 1998 and 1999 in neighboring Jefferson Parish.

Sheriff Larpenter said a DNA sample taken from Dominique matched DNA evidence recovered from the two bodies.

Monday, sheriff's deputies booked Dominique with eight additional counts of first-degree murder and aggravated rape for the strangulation slayings of nine Terrebonne Parish men whose bodies were found in Terrebonne, Lafourche, Assumption, and St. Charles parishes between October 2002 and November 2005, according to a document released by the Terrebonne Sheriff's Office.

During two days of police questioning, Dominique confessed to murdering and raping 23 men whose bodies have been found in Terrebonne and surrounding parishes, Larpenter said. All of the bodies showed signs of strangulation, suffocation, or some type of asphyxiation death, and most bore subtle indications of bondage.

Dominique preyed on men who were down on their luck and in need of money, investigators said at a Monday press conference. Many of his victims were homeless, jobless, and had no means of transportation other than shoe leather or peddle power. Many of the victims were homosexual, as was Dominique.

According to his confession and information gleaned from other sources, Dominique, whom some are already calling the "Bayou Strangler," enticed his victims with promises of money in exchange for sex—either with Dominique himself or his nonexistent wife.

After negotiating a deal with a potential victim, Dominique would drive the man to his home, a tiny camper trailer parked beside his sister's mobile home off of Bayou Blue Road, just northeast of Houma, or to another location Sheriff Larpenter declined to identify. Once Dominique got his intended victim to a secure spot, Larpenter said, he would tell the man that he had to tie him up first, before they had sex. If the victim was heterosexual, Dominique would claim that his "wife" was shy and wouldn't come into the room until the man was tied up.

Dominique never fought with his victims, Larpenter said. Instead, he took advantage of their desperation and tricked them into allowing themselves to be put into a helpless position. No drugs were involved.

"Every one of them was voluntarily tied up," Larpenter said. "Once he got you tied up, you were his."

Dominique chose his victims carefully. "These were street people," Larpenter explained. "A lot of them were living pillar to post." Some were barely missed.

With his victims bound and defenseless, Dominique raped and murdered them, according to investigators, usually by strangulation.

He then dumped the bodies across a six-parish area, like a modern-day Johnny Appleseed of death.


Like the Roman god Janus, who presented two faces to the world, Ronald Joseph Dominique had two faces: one was that of a good neighbor and loving uncle; the other was that of a twisted, sadistic killer.

Ronnie Hebert has known Dominique for years. Hebert owns Ronnie's Lounge, a bar two blocks away from the homeless shelter where Dominique was arrested Friday. A few years ago, Hebert was dating Dominique's cousin and often saw the man now suspected of being a serial killer hanging out in his bar.

"About three or four years ago he was here just about every weekend," Hebert said. "He was quiet. He never really spoke to too many people. He never caused no problems."

Dominique barely drank, Hebert said. Usually he sipped on sodas and shot pool.

Hebert was shocked to hear of Dominique's arrest. "It's kind of hard to believe," Hebert said. "He didn't seem like that kind of person."

Dominique's arrest and subsequent confession to nearly two dozen murders stunned another long-time acquaintance who owns a video rental store just down the street from Dominique's sister's mobile home, where Dominique kept his camper trailer parked and is alleged to have committed many of the brutal crimes for which he now stands accused.

"He was a very friendly guy," said the woman, who asked Crime Library not to publish her name. "You couldn't ask for a better guy."

Dominique was a frequent customer at the video store for several years. The owner said she knew Dominique was gay. He rented gay porn movies and sometimes talked enthusiastically about dates he'd had with other men.

He also liked comedies and often rented children's movies for his nieces and nephews, she said.

A few months ago, Dominique surprised the video store owner when he walked in and told her that the police suspected him of being the Houma-area serial killer.

"If you're the serial killer," the store owner joked with him, "then I'm the queen of England."

Now that Dominique has been arrested and has reportedly confessed to being the serial killer, that brief exchange haunts the store owner.

No one else who knows Dominique and who has spoken publicly about him has mentioned anything about him dating other gay men.

In fact, several people, both straight and gay, have described Dominique was a loner and an outcast. One former roommate told The Courier newspaper, "He didn't have many friends. He didn't keep friends."

The former roommate, who lived briefly with Dominique in the mid-1980s, said he didn't recall Dominique dating or bringing men home.

Crime Library asked the video store owner if she thought Dominique's "dates" could actually have been his way of referring to the men he is charged with killing. "I don't want to think so," she said, "but I don't know."

A former neighbor of Dominique's, who lives across the street from his sister's trailer, said Dominique was a good neighbor. "He was nice," said the woman, who did not give her name. Dominique played with her children and other children in the small neighborhood, made up mostly of mobile homes. She also saw him playing frequently with his sister's grandchildren.

Dominique's arrest shocked the former neighbor. "He's not the person we knew," she said.

Deception — hiding behind a mask of normalcy — is a survival skill common to serial killers, said FBI Special Agent Jim Bernazzani, head of the bureau's New Orleans Division. "Serial killers hide in plain sight," Bernazzani said. "They do not distinguish themselves. That's why they are so effective."

Since his arrest, Dominique may have donned yet another mask, that of a deathly ill heart patient. After Dominique's arrest Friday, news photographers captured images of him leaning heavily on a cane as he hobbled into jail surrounded by detectives.

Dominique claims to have had two heart attacks in as many months, according to those who know him, and has recently presented himself as resting on the brink of death.

It's all bunk, Sheriff Larpenter said, an act designed to garner sympathy. Dominique has "minor" heart trouble, the sheriff said Tuesday, for which he had already scheduled doctor's appointment in March. Dominique is currently receiving medical treatment in jail.

Just a few months ago, the sheriff said, Dominique was lugging around the bodies of men he had raped and murdered.


Ronald Joseph Dominique Confesses To 23 Sex-Motivated Murders

By Chuck Hustmyre

December 5, 2006

Houma, La. (Crime Library)  —  Law enforcement authorities announced at a press conference Monday that suspected serial killer Ronald Joseph Dominique has confessed to 23 murders in south Louisiana.

Dominique was arrested Friday at a homeless shelter in Houma and charged with the murders of 19-year-old Manuel Reed and 27-year-old Oliver Lebanks. The bodies of both men were found dumped in neighboring Jefferson Parish in the late 1990s.

The deaths of Reed and Lebanks were among the first in a string of nearly two dozen unsolved homicides of mostly young men that occurred between 1997 and 2006 in and around Houma.

Jim Bernazzani, special agent in charge of the FBI in New Orleans, said, "This was the most significant serial killer case in the country in terms of the number of victims and the length of time he was at it."

Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said Monday that during the course of two days of interviewing, Dominique admitted to killing all 23 victims.

"Sex is the motive," Larpenter said. "Sex is behind all the killings."

Sheriff Larpenter said Dominique prowled the streets of Houma and nearby towns at night, usually between 10 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., looking for men who were down on their luck. Homeless men, drug addicts, alcoholics, men trying to make a quick buck—these were the kind of people Dominique sought. "He's offering them money," Larpenter said. "He's offering them money either to come have sex with him, or he's offering them money to come have sex with a female."

Once the victims accepted Dominique's offer of money for sex, he took them either to his home, a camper trailer parked on family property in the community of Bayou Blue just east of Houma, or to another location that Sheriff Larpenter refused to identify. Dominique then persuaded the victims to let him tie them up as a prelude to sex.

Not all of the victims were gay, Larpenter said. Some of them thought they were about to have sex with Dominique's wife. Although Dominique wasn't married, he told potential victims that he was, and as part of his ruse he may have shown a photograph of an attractive woman to his victims.

"Every one of them was voluntarily tied up," Larpenter said. Once Dominique had his victims trussed up and defenseless, he attacked—raping them, murdering them, and then dumping their bodies, often in roadside ditches.


In March 2005, law enforcement officers from across Louisiana's bayou country west of New Orleans formed a multi-jurisdictional task force aimed at catching the murderer some have dubbed the "Bayou Serial Killer." State Attorney General Charles Foti led the task force.

Earlier this year, task force investigators got a tip from a state probation and parole agent. One of the agent's parolees mentioned to the agent that four or five years ago a man who lived in a camper on Bayou Blue Road promised to let him have sex with the man's wife if he would allow the man to tie him up first. The potential victim got nervous and bolted from the camper.

After the parolee came forward with his story, investigators identified the man who lived in the camper as Ronald Joseph Dominique.

Investigators also discovered that in 1996, Dominique had been arrested in Thibodaux, La., a small town 15 miles north of Houma, for raping another man. After three months in jail, the case was dismissed because the victim disappeared.

According to Sheriff Larpenter, spending time in jail forced Dominique to re-evaluate his technique. "That was the turning point," Larpenter said. "He didn't want to leave any more live victims. A dead man can't talk."

Police discovered the first body the following year.

Nine years and 22 bodies later, task force investigators took a DNA swab of Dominique's saliva. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office Crime Lab and the FBI Crime Lab later matched it to DNA material found on at least two of the victims.

They had their man.

"This was a team effort," Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti said during Monday's press conference. "Everybody worked together. We have captured a person who has been responsible for the deaths of 23 people in this community."

Monday police booked Dominique with an additional nine counts of first-degree murder. He is being held in the Terrebonne Parish jail. A bond hearing is set for Tuesday.

Terrebonne Parish District Attorney Joseph Waitz Jr. said he will seek the death penalty for Dominique.


Lousiana Cops Nab Ronald Joseph Dominique, Suspected Serial Killer

By Chuck Hustmyre

December 4, 2006

Houma, La. (Crime Library)  —  Police in this small, normally quiet city in south central Louisiana say they have captured a man they suspect may have committed as many as 23 murders, the earliest of which dates back nearly a decade.

Late Friday afternoon members of a special task force set up to catch the state's latest serial killer slipped into a homeless shelter on the east side of the city and arrested a heavyset man wearing a ball cap and a hooded sweatshirt.

For several days before his arrest, 42-year-old Ronald Joseph Dominique had been staying at the Bunkhouse homeless shelter, according to authorities. Before that, he spent the last several years living in a camper trailer next door to his mother at two locations in Terrebonne Parish.

By Friday night, task force investigators announced they were charging Dominique in connection with two of the 23 homicides they suspect are linked to the same killer. The charges against Dominique include the first-degree murder and aggravated rape of 19-year-old Manual Reed, found in a garbage dumpster in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner in 1999; and the second-degree murder of 27-year-old Oliver Lebanks, found just outside of New Orleans in 1998.

At the time their bodies were discovered, both men were only partially clothed. Both had been asphyxiated.

The first body in the string of nearly two dozen homicides the task force is investigating was found July 14, 1997. The last body was found Oct. 15, 2006.


According to police, nearly all of the 23 victims whose slayings are under investigation had lived hard lives. All were men. The youngest was 17; the oldest was 46. Most were in their 20s. Many had drug problems and had been involved in previous scrapes with the law. Some had been homeless. Of those whose manner of death could be determined, the causes were strangulation, suffocation, or some other type of asphyxiation. A few showed signs of having been beaten up. Some were found nude.

In the summer of 2005, several law enforcement agencies banded together to form a task force under the overall direction of the Louisiana Attorney General's Office. Then came hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the task force got sidetracked. After the storms, three more bodies turned up.

A few weeks ago, a state probation and parole agent passed along a tip to the task force. One of the people the agent supervises said a man he had let tie him up for sex had threatened to kill him. The victim escaped and identified Ronald Joseph Dominique as his assailant. When investigators checked into Dominique's history, they found a similar incident.

Four or five years ago, a man wearing only a pair of jeans and with an electric cord tied around one arm dove out of the window of Dominique's camper trailer and then ran around the trailer park screaming for help and shouting that Dominique was trying to rape and murder him.

Most residents knew Dominique was gay and chalked the disturbance up to some type of kinky sex thing.

But to investigators, they were something more. The two incidents, with their indications of sexual bondage, reportedly gave investigators a better understanding how so many relatively young men could have been asphyxiated yet whose bodies showed little or no signs of having been involved in a struggle.

"It opened our eyes," Les Bonano, director of investigations for the Attorney General's Office told The Advocate newspaper.

Following his arrest, Dominique spent several hours talking with detectives Friday and Saturday and has confessed to at least 11 killings, according to published reports.

Dominique is currently being held in the Terrebonne Parish jail awaiting a bond hearing. Officials with the serial killer task force have scheduled a 2:00 p.m. press conference Monday at which they have promised to release more details about the case.



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