The Southern Louisiana Serial Killer: Derrick Todd Lee

Jan 1, 2010
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Well researched.  Lots of details. 

Cons:Very disturbing at times.

The Bottom Line: You will probably be double-checking to make sure your doors are locked after reading Blood Bath. But if you read true-crime books, you will find it worthwhile.

The victims did not seem to fit any particular pattern, and neither did the few witness reports that trickled in.  The killings, though all horrific, were not too frequent, and occurred in different localities.  All the while the perpetrator roamed about openly, and even spent some time in jail on other charges. The perpetrator was Derrick Todd Lee, and he terrorized Southern Louisiana, eluded police, and baffled investigators for nearly a decade, while leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.

In the book Blood Bath authors Susan Mustafa, Clayton Tony, and Sue Israel recount the frightening legacy of Derrick Todd Lee and how he was able to stay a free man for so long when so many clues should have pointed in his direction. The authors also focus on the pain and suffering of the victims' families, who lived in quiet terror, wondering who killed their loved ones, and why.

The book is arranged more or less by victims, and often shows how they died then goes into some background about their lives. A fair warning – some of the crime scene descriptions are very detailed and gruesome. Many of Lee's victims were stabbed relentlessly, leaving blood-spattered walls and pools of blood on carpets. The book's title is not an exaggeration. Some chapters also focus on specific police investigators, and later the court proceedings for Derrick Todd Lee in 2004.

One startling aspect about Derrick Todd Lee is that he was not your ''stereotypical serial killer''.  He is a light-skinned black man with a friendly face, short cropped hair, and a wife and children. Although his IQ was below average, he managed to get some decent paying jobs, and was frequently seen flirting with and ''dating'' lots of women on the side.  Even a few brushes with the law did not raise suspicions with police since he did not fit the profile of a killer.

If you read true-crime books you will probably find Blood Bath to be very interesting.  I thought that the authors did a lot of research into the case before publishing it, and spent time giving a voice to the victims' loved ones.  Their focus on the performance of the police investigators may be somewhat controversial since it shows that Lee eluded capture for a long time without much effort. But someone obviously dropped the ball, and quite a few people died horrific deaths as a result.

Blood Bath includes about sixteen black-and-white photographs as well, including pictures of the crime scenes, the victims when they were alive, and the houses where Lee or the victims live. Most of the photos are poor quality though. The book's final chapter recaps how many victims he claimed (at least seven, but probably eleven or more).  Overall this is a decent true-crime book because it is well-written and provides a lot of background information. However, I would only recommend it to those who can stomach the details of the cases in order to learn more about Lee and his victims.

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