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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Police Investigating Another Missing Person Case to See if Linked to Alleged Louisiana Serial Killer

Aired May 29, 2003 - 20:10   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Want to move on to some new developments in another high-profile case right now. There is breaking news to report in the case against Derrick Todd Lee. He, the man charged in connection with the serial killings of five women in southern Louisiana. you no doubt know his name already. Let's go live to Ed Lavandera in Baton Rouge with more -- Ed.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.

Well over the last couple of days, as Derrick Todd Lee's name has surfaced in the serial killer investigation, there are a number of law enforcement agencies around southern Louisiana who have started to go back through old cases dating back to the 1990s to see if Derrick Todd Lee might be connected in their opinion to any of those cases. And we're getting evidence of that, just how serious these investigations are being taken.

In Jackson, Louisiana right now, just north of the Baton Rouge area, there is a concrete slab that is being dug up at the home of a former girlfriend of Derrick Todd Lee. And it is believed that what they are looking for is the body of a 28-year-old woman that has been missing since 1998.

I just spoke with the sheriff up in that area who told me that investigators have been at that area, at this house, for a good while now, digging up this concrete slab. And so far what they've been able to find is a bone and a bracelet. But the sheriff also says they're not sure exactly what that might be. So warning everybody not to jump to any conclusions at this point.

But they say they got a tip from a good friend of Derrick Lee yesterday that pointed them -- they said that a couple of days after this woman had turned up missing back in 1998, that this person had seen Derrick Lee pouring concrete in the middle of the night. And that's why they've gone back to do this.

All of this happening as the legal proceedings here in Baton Rouge continue against Derrick lee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Derrick Todd Lee spent an hour meeting with his court-appointed attorneys Thursday morning inside this Baton Rouge prison. The day before, police say, Lee spent five hours being questioned by investigators. His attorney, Michael Mitchell, says there was no lawyer with Lee at the time.

Mitchell isn't criticizing investigators for questioning Lee, but he does say the defense team wants to find out what was said during Wednesday's interrogation.

MICHAEL MITCHELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That's one of the issues that we're going to look into. But we have to look into every aspect of this case. We've got a lot of catching up to do.

LAVANDERA: Lee faces 12 criminal charges which include five counts of first degree murder and five counts of aggravated rape. Investigators say there's DNA evidence linking Lee to the murders of five women. Prosecutors think that will help build a powerful case against him.

DOUG MOREAU, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH: Because there's only one source of any DNA. You know there's nobody, as much as they might want to try, however they comb their hair, they can't replicate your DNA. You've got it, you carry it around and it's your unique identifier.

LAVANDERA: Lee's attorneys want to see that DNA evidence and analyze it themselves.

MITCHELL: We're going to examine the DNA that supposedly exists in this case, see how it was taken and et cetera. Of course we're going to have to have experts look at that.

LAVANDERA: Perhaps the most contentious issue might be whether Derrick Lee can get a fair trial in Baton Rouge.

MITCHELL: Clearly, that's questionable. With all of you all out here it would seem to be tough to get a fair trial in this area. But we're going to cross that bridge when we get to it.

MOREAU: Our goal is to not add to publicity in an improper way, to educate people to the extent we're allowed to educate them about the process and to serve the legal function that we serve, which is to try the case in a courtroom.

LAVANDERA (on camera): And your hope toss do that here in Baton Rouge?

MOREAU: Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: Derrick Lee's attorneys say that they will continue to gather evidence and begin their own investigation as to what happened since September of 2001. And meanwhile prosecutors are focused on presenting their case before a grand jury which they hope will happen in the next three weeks.

But right now, Anderson, as we speak, the development going on in Jackson, Louisiana, as investigators are looking into -- under -- digging up a concrete slab to see if Derrick Todd Lee might be connected to another disappearance of a woman dating back to in 1998.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: All right, Ed Lavandera, thanks very much on that.

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