What Led Authorities To Finger Derrick Todd Lee As Their Man?

She says she was nearly killed by suspected serial killer Derrick Todd Lee. And it's because of what she remembered from the attack that detectives got their first big hint Lee was the man they wanted.

The attempted rape and murder took place on June 9, 2002, just three days before Pam Kinamore, the serial killer's third known victim, was abducted and murdered. St. Martin Parish Assistant District Attorney Chester Cedars says although the woman was alone when she was attacked, someone showed up just in time to save her life.

It was 12:30 in the afternoon, somewhere just outside the small town of Breaux Bridge, when a woman says she was attacked inside her home. While Cedars won't say whether the woman has fingered her attacker, he does say his office and the investigating detectives involved in this case are convinced that Derrick Todd Lee was the assailant.

But it wasn't until Friday May 23, 2003 that all the information came together suggesting that the man wanted in the attack of the Breaux Bridge woman and two others was a possible suspect in the serial killings of at least five south Louisiana women. -- On that day police held a news conference where they revealed the woman's attacker was an African American who tricked her into letting him inside her home by asking to borrow a phone and phone book. A sketch was released as well as a description of the car the suspect was driving.

Although the woman was alone at the time, what her attacker didn't count on was a relative showing up. Cedars says by the time the relative arrived the victim had already been beaten almost to the point of unconsciousness.

The family member then saw the attacker flee in a gold 1997 Mitsubishi Mirage -- the car that ultimately led authorities to Derrick Lee. However, Cedars says it isn't just eyewitness accounts that place Lee at the scene of the crime.

"We have other evidence. It's not limited soley to what our victim and the person who interrupted the crime are able to testify to," said Cedars. "There's other evidence, I don't want to get into the details but it's fairly strong evidence."

Cedars has issued a warrant for Derrick Lee's arrest but has not filed formal charges against him. That's because he is waiting on some additional information from detectives that should come in a few days. He is scheduled to interview the victim and the person who walked in on the crime next week. After that he will move to charge Lee with attempted rape and attempted first degree murder.