Saturday, January 2, 2010

Murders of eight women unsolved in small Lousiana town

A report in today's New York Times, dateline Jennings, Louisiana, population 10,986, depicts the town as a mini Cuidad Juarez. Juarez is the notorious Mexican city over the border from El Paso where hundreds of women have been murdered in the past decade or so--and where few of those murders have been solved. In Jennings, the bodies of eight young women have been found in the past four years or so--some so badly decomposed that it is not certain they were murdered. Nevertheless, all women had something in common: they had all run afoul of the law at some point, typically in relation to prostitution or drugs.

Jennings is in Jefferson Davis Parish, population 31,201, a place journalist Campbell Brown describes as "quiet countryside of rice and crawfish farms." But Brown also describes a contrasting aspect of Jennings, characterizing it as "[l]ong a stopping-off point for drug traffickers along Interstate 10," with a thriving crack trade.

Brown's report touches on various themes, e.g., lack of anonymity, that I have explored as relevant to how law--especially criminal law--may operate differently in rural places. Here are some excerpts:
Most [of the victims] knew one another or were even related, members of a small circle in a small town.

* * *

There has also been anger at what many local residents view as missteps by sheriff’s investigators, like lost or missing evidence, and fury at the possibility that a serial killer might be loose.

* * *

Over time, dissatisfaction has turned to outright suspicion that the local police are involved in or are covering up the deaths. In a small town like Jennings, where law enforcement officers, victims and criminals are often related by blood and friendship, the police’s failings inevitably take on an ominous cast.

Federal authorities are working with local officials to solve the crimes.

1 comment:

gene said...

For the story on the Juarez massacre of 350 women, see Juarez Massacre