Man arrested at La. shelter in possible serial slay didn't look suspicious, residents say

Saturday, December 2nd 2006, 10:12 pm
By: News On 6

HOUMA, La. (AP) A man booked on murder charges in the investigation of a possible string of serial killings didn't raise eyebrows when he checked into a homeless shelter two days before his arrest, people who met him said Saturday.

``He didn't look scary,'' said Phillip Breaux, who spent time with Ronald J. Dominique at the shelter in this Cajun city about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans. ``If they hadn't arrested him, he could have stayed here 20 years and nobody would have thought anything about him.''

Dominique was arrested and booked Friday on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated rape in the May 1999 strangling death of Manuel Reed, 20, and second-degree murder in the October 1998 death of Oliver Lebanks, 27.

A task force has been investigating the slayings of 22 men, including Lebanks and Reed, in southeastern Louisiana. The first was found in 1997, the last less than a month ago.

On Friday, authorities would not say whether they believed Dominique was connected to other slayings but said more charges were possible.

Officials said forensic evidence led them to Dominique, 42.

Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry J. Larpenter said Saturday that Dominique was working with investigators, but the sheriff would not provide details about what he had told authorities. More information would be released at a Monday news conference, Larpenter said.

Dominique checked into Bunk House Inn, Inc. on Wednesday afternoon.

``He didn't say too much,'' said Raymond ``Pappy'' Bourg, the shelter's assistant manager. ``He said he had a heart problem and was trying to get his Social Security but that was about it.

``You wouldn't suppose this dude could do what they said. He looks like somebody from a church.''

Houma Police Sgt. Bobbie O'Bryan, who operates the shelter with his wife, said detectives asked him about Dominique on Thursday and watched him at the shelter through video surveillance before arresting him Friday.

``He was very calm,'' O'Bryan said. ``The officers didn't even handcuff him because at the time they said they only wanted to question him.''

Until Friday, many authorities, including Attorney General Charles Foti, shied away from saying southeastern Louisiana had its third serial killer investigation in a matter of years.

Many of the men killed were poor; some were willing to trade sex for drugs. They had been strangled without the bruises or broken bones that would indicate a struggle.