TWISTED TRAIL of an ACCUSED KILLER; There Were Arrests, Acquittals, Probation Violations, Suspicions. but Paul Durousseau Kept Dodging Trouble. Now He Is Charged as Jacksonville's Worst Serial Killer

By Schoettler, Jim | The Florida Times Union, December 7, 2003 | Go to article overview

TWISTED TRAIL of an ACCUSED KILLER; There Were Arrests, Acquittals, Probation Violations, Suspicions. but Paul Durousseau Kept Dodging Trouble. Now He Is Charged as Jacksonville's Worst Serial Killer


Schoettler, Jim, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Jim Schoettler, The Times-Union

The killer looped an extension cord around her neck like a noose. He could tighten or loosen it at his pleasure.

Her wrists and ankles were tied for control. She'd been stripped of all but a white blouse and bra.

He'd leave behind a used condom this time. No fear of getting caught. He'd killed before.

At least four young women were slain before that January attack on Shawanda McCalister. Two would be killed later.

All were choked, most with a cord. They were bound or bore the burns of bondage. The killer ripped jewelry from their bodies.

Another Bundy had been on the loose. That's what Jacksonville police would say.

Manipulate. Dominate. Control. The mindset of a serial killer was clear. His face remained mysterious for five and a half years.

McCalister died during a murder frenzy charged to former cabdriver Paul Durousseau, accused of being the city's worst serial killer. He has been in jail since February but denies killing anyone. A trial date has not been set.

Some who know Durousseau said he learned to manipulate girls as a youth, obsessed over pornography and laughed at nude dead women on a favorite Web site. Others found him charming, witty and gentle.

Durousseau, 33, skated through the criminal justice system by avoiding arrests, receiving acquittals or escaping serious punishment for several crimes. He even managed to escape scrutiny for weeks during the murder investigations, though police had his name. Interviews, court records and police reports show:

He was acquitted in a Georgia rape and a Jacksonville burglary, despite eyewitness testimony. Prosecutors gave him a deal in another rape that included probation. It also kept his DNA out of a critical police database.

He repeatedly violated probation during a period that included the murders of five women, but went unpunished.

He was suspected of attacking a teenage girl and other crimes, but was never charged. His wife had him arrested and sought two court orders to stop his abuse and death threats, but she refused to testify.

He drifted from job to job, including work driving a school bus and taxi, without proper background checks.

He became the focus of homicide detectives three weeks after they first heard his name. Two women were slain during that time.

A confident, defiant Durousseau jousted with detectives even after they told him about evidence they had linking him to the killings.

"Why would I prey on them?" said the lean, 6-foot-6 former soldier.

But prey he did, police said. Seven times. There may be more.

EARLY DAYS ROUGH

Paul Durousseau's broken life began when he could barely walk. He was born in the east Texas town of Beaumont to unwed parents, his father said. Durousseau and an older brother moved to Los Angeles about a year later to be with their mother's family. He told police his mother had caught his father cheating.

Joseph Durousseau Jr. said he spent about a month in California before leaving his sons behind for Texas. He wouldn't say why.

"She didn't want them to know me, so I just put it in the hands of the Lord," the father said. He's only seen Durousseau twice since.

The brothers grew up in a tough neighborhood, but their devout mother protected and disciplined them when needed, said his brother, Joseph Durousseau III.

"Momma put the leather down when she had to," the brother said. "We got into some trouble, but nothing like where we went to jail."

Durousseau excelled in sports and thrived on meeting young women as far back as junior high school, his brother said.

"He just knew how to say the right things," he said.

Durousseau became a security guard after graduating high school in 1989, got a woman pregnant and joined the Army rather than marry her, his brother said. …

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