Another man has been found dead in Lafourche Parish, and police know who he is. But the rising fear is that his death may be linked to several others in south Louisiana in a deadly puzzle that investigators say could possibly be piecing together a picture of another serial killer.
Authorities have identified the man found dead in a drainage ditch in Kraemer, Louisiana as 23-year-old Kurt Cunningham. The cause of death remains unknown but the Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Department is investigating whether his death is related to the killings of at least eight other men, five in Houma and three in Kenner.
Not much is known about the men except that just about all of them led high risk lifestyles. Criminologist Dr. Peter Scharf says that's partly why solving the killings is going to be difficult.
"You have people who are very vulnerable," says Scharf. "They're hanging out with people they don't know very well or at all and no one reports them missing or is willing to report them missing for some periods of time."
While there are still more questions than answers surrounding the deaths of the men there are some similarities. All of the victims were strangled to death, dumped in remote areas, and none of them were wearing shoes. Dr. Scharf says that indicates what's known as a killer's signature.
"That communication with the police or the public or the victim is sadly typical in these kinds of cases."
Authorities say the killings "could" be the work of yet another serial killer in south Louisiana. Currently Sean Vincent Gillis is in jail charged with killing three women, and Derrick Todd Lee is on death row. He has been charged with murdering seven women, convicted of killing two. Dr. Scharf says there is a lot to be learned from the lee case.
"If you limit it by time, race, age, sexual preference, anything else you may be way off."
There is another theory Scharf says authorities should not discount.
"The idea that this is a blood alley case, that's what they call I-90 out there, that it's a mobile pattern you probably don't want to exclude also."
That could make that extremely difficult to solve. But Scharf says he has every confidence in authorities from Lafourche and Kenner. He says they came together quickly, the officers have been trained and they're using advanced technology that allows them to tap into criminal databases all over the country.