DNA Tests Come Up Empty in Case of Mari Ann Fowler

Published: Aug. 8, 2003 at 7:49 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2003 at 3:12 PM CDT
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Tonight new results are in for the heart-wrenching case of the kidnapping of Mari Ann Fowler - wife of former Elections Commissioner Jerry Fowler. For weeks her friends and family have been anxiously awaiting DNA tests from Fowler's fingernails that could tell whether her disappearance is linked to the south Louisiana serial killer. WAFB's Jennifer Hale has the results.

After careful testing, the Reliagene Lab in New Orleans could find no DNA evidence anywhere on Mari Ann Fowler's fake fingernail tips. These are the nails that likely popped off while Fowler struggled with her attacker. This means we can't link Fowler to serial killer suspect Derrick Todd Lee - but we also can't rule him out either.

In an exclusive interview, Fowler's only son says the news is a double edged sword, "I really hate to think of my mother having to suffer the way this person committed his crimes, but yet I need to know what happened because eventually I need to move on with my life and right now I can't."

John Pritchett shudders at the thought of his mother meeting the same violent fate as the other serial killer victims - yet after eight months of wondering and praying - he's desperate for answers. Fowler disappeared Christmas Eve night around 5:45 from a Port Allen shopping center on Highway 415. Just thirty minutes later, Pritchett passed by, saw all the police lights and wonedered what family was enduring a holiday tragedy. "I'm disappointed in myself that I wasn't there to protect her and take care of her."

Police say they still have several strong leads and plenty of evidence...including a black General Motors truck detectives believe was used to kidnap Fowler. It is now undergoing extensive forensic tests at the State Police Crime Lab. That truck could answer the question of whether serial killer suspect Derrick Todd Lee could be connected to the Fowler case as well. Chief Deputy Mike Cazes said, "We're still not ruling him out. We still have detectives investigating it and we will continue with the investigation until we're at the end."

The Fowler kidnapping case remains open and active. Investigators from the Attorney General's Office and the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Department say they will not stop until all possible leads are exhausted. If you saw anything that night on Highway 415, please call the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office at 343-9234.

Cazes won't say when he expects test results from the truck but we do know they're pulling the vehicle apart and testing the seats, dashboard and floorboards individually. If the State Police Crime Lab doesn't find any evidence in the truck, it's possible the truck could also be sent to the Reliagene Lab for more sophisticated testing.