Neighbours thought Ronald Joseph Dominique was helpful and unassuming – little did they know his dark, deadly secrets.
In the Southern state of Louisiana, USA, bodies had been piling up for nine years. By March 2005, there were 22 unsolved killings.
All victims were male, aged between 16 and 46. Most were homeless.
The victims had been bound and strangled or asphyxiated, some had been raped and several were found partially clothed or barefoot. Many of the bodies had been dumped in sugarcane fields in bodies of water known as bayous, and in ditches in remote areas.
A special task force was set up. All feared they had a serial killer on their hands…
A year passed and no arrests were made.
Then, on 15 October 2006, another victim was discovered. And soon after, in December 2006, an ex-convict told his parole officer he’d encountered a man who’d wanted to tie him up as part of a sexual tryst with the man’s wife. He’d gone back to the man’s trailer, but felt uncomfortable so he’d left.
The task forced investigated. Would they catch the Bayou Serial Killer?
Armed with a description of the trailer, police traced Ronald Joseph Dominique. He seemed an unlikely serial killer though.
Tubby and unassuming, Ronald walked with a cane and was helpful to neighbours. He even volunteered as a bingo caller at an old folks’ home.
Dominique was arrested and gave a DNA sample. The results connected him to two unsolved murders from 1998 and 1999.
The two male victims had both been asphyxiated. One had been raped.
Shockingly, Dominique confessed to murdering 23 men over nine years…
He admitted approaching men and offering them money for sex. If the victim wasn’t gay, Dominique would produce a picture of a woman he claimed was his wife, saying he wanted someone to have sex with her.
He would then take the man back to his trailer where he tied him up and raped him, before killing him and dumping his body.
After nine years of brutal murders, the police had finally caught this callous killer.
But what had turned him that way?
Born on 9 January 1964, in the Bayou Blue area of Houma, Dominique had a difficult upbringing.
Although he was reportedly openly gay as an adult, he never admitted it as a teenager. He sang in the chorus of his glee club at school where he was ridiculed for his camp manner.
Aged 21, in 1985, Dominique was arrested and charged with telephone harassment. He pleaded guilty, paid a fine and costs.
Then, in 1996, he was arrested for forcible rape and sentenced to three months in prison.
It’s believed that it was during this incarceration that Dominique claimed he had decided it’d be safer to kill his victims and leave no witnesses.
But was he only killing to stop himself being reported? Or was he beginning to take pleasure in the cruelty?
As his violence progressed, Dominique approached people in gay bars, or men walking streets or riding bikes. If they refused to be tied up, he’d let them go.
He callously dumped the bodies of the dead men locally.
In September 2008, Ronald Joseph Dominique formally admitted eight murders. He was given eight life sentences.