Paul Durousseau: The Jacksonville Strangler
Paul Durousseau murdered at least seven women in the US and is suspected of more killings in Germany. He is serving a life sentence.
The Paul Durousseau case kept the United States in suspense for many years. Between January 6, 1997 and January 20, 2003, the nation was terrified by the murders of several women in the states of Georgia and Florida. This serial killer may have even crossed borders to commit murders in Germany, where he was stationed with the US Army.
Police in Germany suspect that Paul Durousseau may have killed several local women. He is currently incarcerated in the Walton Correctional Facility in Florida, which will be his home until the day he dies. Although he was initially sentenced to death, that was overturned and he will now spend the rest of his days behind bars.
PAUL DUROUSSEAU’S EARLY YEARS
Paul Durosseau was born on August 11, 1970, in Beaumont, Texas, but spent most of his life in Los Angeles. In his youth, he found work as a security guard but very soon his life would take a different turn. At 21, Durousseau was arrested for the first time, accused of weapons possession in California.
Despite this, The Jacksonville Strangler was able to enlist in the United States Army and spend time in Germany, a country where he met Natoca, his wife. His departure from the army came under unfavorable circumstances, as he was found guilty of theft and was dishonorably discharged. In 2001, he spent 48 days in prison for domestic violence but this did not prevent him from finding jobs where, it is believed, he found several of his victims.
PAUL DUROUSSEAU’S MODUS OPERANDI
All of Paul Durousseau’s known victims were young women. According to the testimony of several witnesses, survivors and the serial killer himself, he kidnapped them or held them hostage in their own homes. There, Durousseau proceeded to rape and strangle them using a cord.
At least two of his victims were pregnant and one of them lived with her two children, who he did not harm. Authorities were alerted to the fact that the person responsible for the numerous murders of women would break into the apartments or houses of the victims, leaving a similar crime scene in all cases. Another element that made Durousseau a suspect was that the murder of Shawanda McCalister coincided with his first day on the job as a taxi driver.
CHRONOLOGY OF HIS MURDERS
On September 7, 1997, the body of Tracy Habrsham, a 26-year-old woman whose murder was linked to Durusseau through DNA evidence, was found. In 1999, he killed Tyersa Mack; on December 19, 2002, he murdered 18-year-old Nicole Williams, and on January 1, 2003, police found the body of Nikia Kilpatrick showing signs of strangulation and sexual assault.
Just a week after Kilpatrick’s discovery, Jovanna Jefferson and Surita Cohen were reported dead and their bodies were found several yards apart. However, police determined their deaths occurred within 10 days of each other.
ARREST OF PAUL DUROUSSEAU
Several witnesses testified against Paul Durusseau, including two people who saw him with Jefferson and Cohen while he was working as a taxi driver. His days as a serial killer finally came to an end in 2006, when he was arrested for violating his probation on a rape conviction.
While he was in custody, authorities collected enough evidence to find a connection between all the murders committed in the area and concluded (thanks to cloth fibers, DNA evidence, and jewelry belonging to his last two victims) that Paul Durousseau was actually The Jacksonville Strangler.
TRIAL AND SENTENCE
Paul Durousseau was charged with five murders and in 2007 he was sentenced to death by lethal injection for the murder of Tyersa Mack. Ten years later, the sentence was changed to life imprisonment, since several members of the jury considered the death penalty unconstitutional.
In 2021 he was sentenced to life in prison, which he is currently serving at Walton Correctional Facility. The Jacksonville Strangler will go down in history as one of America’s most feared serial killers, with a death toll that could be even higher than initially reported.