Paul Durousseau (born August 11, 1970) is an American serial killer who murdered seven young women (including two who were pregnant) in the southeast United States between 1997 and 2003. German authorities suspect he may have killed several local women when he was stationed there with the Army during the early 1990s. Typically, Durousseau would gain the victim’s trust, enter the victim’s home, tie their hands, rape, then strangle them to death. All of his known victims were young, single African-American women.
Paul Durousseau was born in Beaumont, Texas. Little is known publicly about Paul Durousseau’s childhood. His first offenses with the law as an adult took place on December 18, 1991 and on January 21, 1992 for carrying a concealed firearm in California. In November 1992, he enlisted in the US Army and was stationed in Germany, where he met Natoca, who would later become his wife.
The two married in 1995 in Las Vegas. In 1996, they were transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia. On March 13, 1997, he was arrested for kidnapping and raping a young woman. However, in August of that year he was cleared of those charges. Soon after, he was found in possession of stolen goods. He was court-martialed in January 1999, found guilty and dishonorably discharged from the Army.
The two moved to Natoca Durousseau’s hometown of Jacksonville, Florida where they had two daughters. It was during that period that he committed most of the murders. He struggled to keep jobs and make ends meet, and the couple would often have fights over the issue of finances. In 1999, the police advised Durousseau’s wife on how to file for a restraining order after he allegedly slapped her in the face and grabbed her by the neck. Later, she testified he got violently angry when she talked about getting a divorce. In September and October 2001, Durousseau spent 48 days in jail for domestic battery.
Durousseau still managed to hold various legitimate jobs. In 2001, he was hired as a school bus driver and an animal control worker despite being a convicted felon. In 2003, he worked as a taxi driver in Jacksonville. The Gator City Taxi Company failed to run a background check on Durousseau and it is now accepted that this is how he first came into contact with some of his victims.
Neighbors and friends described him as a “lewd womanizer”. He often asked young women when they planned to “make flicks” with him. Witnesses recall him trying to seduce girls as young as 13 years of age.
Chronology of the murders
Less than one month after the acquittal over the rape charges, the nude body of 26-year-old Tracy Habersham was found on September 7, 1997 in Fort Benning. She had been missing for 48 hours and was last seen leaving a party. She had been raped and strangled to death with a cord. Paul Durousseau was not a suspect in the murder but DNA would later tie him to the crime. He also would confess in Habersham’s killing after his arrest.
In 1999, he raped and killed 24-year-old Tyresa Mack in her apartment. Witnesses saw him leave her place with a television. In 2001, he was arrested for raping a young woman in Jacksonville. He spent 30 days in jail and received two years’ probation. On December 19, 2002, 18-year-old Nicole L. Williams’ body was found wrapped in a blue blanket at the bottom of a ditch in Jacksonville. She had been reported missing two days earlier.
On January 1, 2003, family members of 19-year-old Nikia Kilpatrick went to check on her. They had not had any news from her for several days. They found her body in the bedroom of her apartment. She had been raped then killed by strangulation with a cord two days before. Her two sons, an eleven-month-old and a two-year-old, were alive but malnourished. Kilpatrick was approximately six months pregnant at the time of her death.
On January 9 of the same year, 20-year-old nurse assistant Shawanda Denise McCalister, who was also pregnant at the time of her death, was raped and strangled to death in her Jacksonville apartment. The murder scene was almost identical to that of Nikia Kilpatrick. She was killed on Durousseau’s first day of driving a cab for Gator City Taxi. Her body was found the following day.
The next two victims were 17-year-old Jovanna Jefferson, and 19-year-old Surita Cohen. Their bodies were found close to each other in a ditch next to a construction site on New Kings Road in Jacksonville on February 5. Police estimated that Jefferson was murdered around January 20 and Cohen was killed 10 days later. Witnesses recount having seen the two last victims with a taxi driver fitting Paul Durousseau’s description on the night they disappeared.
He was arrested and charged with five counts of murder on June 17, 2003. On December 13, 2007 he was sentenced to die by lethal injection for the murder of Tyresa Mack. As of August 18, 2013, he was still a resident on Florida’s death row at Union Correctional Institution. No execution date has been set.