A cab driver stalked Jacksonville's streets, engaging in a two-month serial killing spree that left five young women strangled, Sheriff Nat Glover said Tuesday.
Two of the victims were pregnant, and in one case, young children were found crawling around their mother's deceased body.
Paul Durousseau, 32, was charged Tuesday with five counts of first-degree murder for the Dec. 19 to Feb. 5 killings. He is also suspected in another killing six years ago in Columbus, Ga. Authorities said DNA evidence, fiber analysis, cab records and cell phone calls linked Durousseau to the slayings.
Durousseau, a married father of at least two children, was arrested on the murder charges Tuesday afternoon at the Duval County Jail, where he had been held without bail since Feb. 6 for violating his probation on a sexual assault conviction. He was to have his first court appearance Wednesday on the new charges.
Glover said the killer used a "peculiar slipknot" on the ligature he used to strangle some of the victims. In one case, a coaxial cable was used; in another, an extension cord was used.
The sheriff said authorities spent the past few months piecing together the evidence with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Durousseau arrest in February -- the day after the last two victim's bodies were found -- was on unrelated charges. But police clearly wanted him off the streets.
"We made the arrest at that time feeling reasonably certain that he was the likely suspect in these homicides," Glover said. "We felt we needed to eliminate the continual threat to our community."
About 20 family members of the victims were invited to the news conference. One woman held an 8x10 picture of her daughter in her lap. Some began sobbing loudly when Glover read the details of their deaths. They left without commenting.
Durousseau's employer, Gator City Taxi and Shuttle, refused comment Tuesday.
The arrest was the talk of Durousseau's neighborhood late Tuesday. Most of his neighbors in the far north Jacksonville neighborhood described him as quiet person who kept to himself.
"I didn't think he was that kind of person," said Shawn Pickles, 18.
Another neighbor, Serena Humphrey, said she couldn't believe he was responsible for killings.
"I didn't think he would do something like that," she said. "Only God knows."
But Marie Thompson, 25, who lived two doors down, said she had known him for years and found him to be unsavory.
"He was just nasty. He did things to young girls he shouldn't do," she said.
No one answered the door at Durousseau's house, a one-story brick house in a neighborhood of houses and apartments.
The first Jacksonville victim was Nicole L. Williams, 18, who was found Dec. 19 in a ditch, wrapped in a blanket.
Two weeks later on New Year's night, Nikia Shanell Kilpatrick was discovered bound and strangled in her apartment. Police say Kilpatrick, who was 19 and pregnant, could have been dead two days. Her two small children were found unharmed in the apartment.
On Jan. 10, 20-year-old Shawanda Denise McCalister, who was also pregnant, was found bound and strangled in her apartment in the same neighborhood.
The last two victims were found together Feb. 5 in a vacant lot. Surita Ann Cohen, 19, and Jovanna Tyrica Jefferson, 17, were last seen with a cab driver.
A police report states that Cohen was found with her hands bound behind her back with a telephone cord. There was bruising on Jefferson's wrists, which the medical examiner said was consistent with being bound before her death.
A search of Durousseau's previous residence turned up a bed sheet that contained DNA from Jefferson, police said. A search of his car turned up jewelry belonging to Cohen and Jefferson, and the pair's cell phone records showed that they had placed calls to him, police said.
The Georgia victim was Tracy Habersham, whose nude body was found Sept. 7, 1997, by someone walking a dog near the neighborhood where the 26-year-old grew up. She was last seen two days earlier at a party at a Fort Benning, Ga., club. Police had believed she was strangled shortly after the party.
Durousseau was in the Army in Georgia at the time, investigators said.
Durousseau was linked to Habersham's slaying shortly after his February arrest through DNA evidence that he would not describe, Columbus police Maj. Russell Traino said. He wouldn't say if Habersham was sexually assaulted.
Warrants for Durousseau's arrest are pending in Columbus, but it's unlikely he'll face trial there, Traino said.
"If he's convicted (in Florida), we'll probably never get him back here. We hope to someday," he said.
Attempts to reach Habersham's father, a corrections officer in Columbus, were unsuccessful Tuesday.
"I'm sure it's going to give the family some closure," Traino said. "We've stayed in touch with the family throughout the investigation. They're very supportive of law enforcement."
Glover said police will also check to see if these six slayings can be linked to others.
"I'm not certain there might not be some other victims in other jurisdictions," he said.
Father Of Victim Knows Accused Killer