May 25, 2010 2:05 PM by Kate Durio
Since 2005, eight women have disappeared from the heart of Jennings and were later found brutally murdered and dumped in the rural areas surrounding this small, south Louisiana town. These unsolved murders have spread fear into an otherwise quaint small town known as the cradle of Louisiana oil. Some of Jennings' 12,000 residents say that these heinous crimes are killing the very spirit of a town that could be anywhere and yet could be hiding a killer. Begging the question on everyone's mind... who's killing Jennings?
Incorporated as a municipality in 1900, Jennings, LA was known as the "Northern town on Southern soil" for its large number of Midwestern settlers. The town prospered after oil was found in what was to become the first oil well and oil field in Louisiana in 1901. Jennings is also home to the Bulldogs which provides the town a weekly meeting place to cheer for the home team.
Five years ago, Jennings became home of something much more sinister than Friday night lights. Eight women, all from the same social circle, all last seen in Jennings, all found in outlying rural areas, dead.
Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff, Ricky Edwards heads up the investigation for the eight homicide cases, but he hasn't said these women are the victims of a serial killer.
"We look at all aspects as I said in our press conference that the word, "serial" is probably applicable. It doesn't help us in our investigation one way or the other whether it's described as serial or not, so we're looking at it both collectively and singularly. It's an anomaly that eight in this short period and from the same area and the way they are disposed. So that is one of the major links that we look at, behaviorally," says Sheriff Edwards.
Without answers or new information, Jennings residents question their own safety. The cloud of suspicion has grown with every unsolved murder, damaging an already fragile community morale.
The Reverend Gerald Perkins of Union Baptist Church says these murders are having a tremendous negative impact on this city.
"They are unsolved, they leave the families with a lot of grief. There is no closure at this point because of the unsolved homicides. So, it leaves the city with a dark cloud over its head that has been there for some time now," says Reverend Perkins.
-Written and Produced by Kate Durio