Ronald J. Dominique of Houma, LA has confessed to murdering 23 men over the past nine years and dumping their bodies in sugarcane fields, ditches and small bayous in six southeast Louisiana parishes. His reason for killing? He did not want to return to jail after raping the men.
The First Victims
In 1997, authorities found 19-year-old David Levron Mitchell’s murdered body near Hahnville. The body of 20-year-old Gary Pierre was found in St. Charles Parish six months later. In July 1998, the body of 38-year-old Larry Ranson was found in St. Charles Parish. Over the next nine years, more bodies of men ranging in age from 19 to 40 would be found dumped in sugarcane fields, desolate bayous and in ditches in remote areas. Similarities in 23 of the murders lead investigators to suspecting the men were victims of a serial killer.
The Task Force
A task force made up of nine south Louisiana parish sheriff’s offices, the Louisiana State Police and the FBI, was formed in March 2005, to investigate the murders. Investigators knew the 23 victims were mostly homeless men, many who led high-risk lifestyles, which included drug use and prostitution. The victims had been asphyxiated or strangled, some raped and several were barefooted.
After receiving a tip, authorities armed with forensic evidence, arrested Ronald Dominique, 42, and charged him with the murder and rape of 19-year-old Manuel Reed and 27-year-old Oliver Lebanks. Just days before his arrest, Dominique had moved from his sister’s home into the Bunkhouse shelter in Houma, LA. Residents of the home described Dominique as odd, but no one suspected he was a killer.
Dominique Confesses to 23 Murders
Soon after his arrest, Dominique confessed to murdering 23 southeast Louisiana men. His tactics in capturing, sometimes raping then murdering the men was simple. He would lure homeless men with the promise of sex in exchange for money. Sometimes he would tell the men he wanted to pay them to have sex with his wife, and then show a picture of an attractive woman. Dominique was not married.
Dominique then lead the men to his home, asked to tie them up, then raped and eventually murdered the men to avoid arrest. In his statement to the police, Dominique said the men who refused to be tied up would leave his home unharmed. Such was the case with one unnamed man who a year ago, reported the incident to the task force, a tip that eventually led to Dominique’s arrest.
Who Is Ronald Dominique?
Ronald Dominique spent much of his youth in the small bayou community of Thibodaux, LA. Thibodaux sits between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and is the type of community where everyone knows a little about each other.
He attended Thibodaux High School where he was in the glee club and sang in the chorus. Classmates who remember Dominique say he was ridiculed about being homosexual during his teen years, but at the time he never admitted he was gay.
As he got older he seemed to live in two worlds. There was the Dominique who was helpful to his neighbors in the small trailer parks where he lived. Then there was the Dominique who cross-dressed and did bad impersonations of Patti LaBelle at the local gay club. Neither world embrace him and among the gay community, many remember him as someone who was not particularly well liked.
Through most of his adulthood, Dominique struggled financially and would end up living with his mother or other relatives. In the weeks before his arrest, he was living with his sister in a singlewide trailer. He was suffering from declining health, having been hospitalized for a severe heart condition and forced to use a cane to walk.
Outwardly, there was side to Dominique who enjoyed helping people. He joined the Lions Club just months before his arrest, and spent Sunday afternoons calling out Bingo numbers to senior citizens. The membership director said he was well liked by everyone he had met through the Lions Club. Maybe Dominique had finally found a place he felt accepted.
What sparked Dominique to move from the comfort of his sister’s home to the dismal surroundings of a shelter for the homeless is uncertain. Some suspect the family grew uncomfortable by the 24-hour police surveillance and Dominique, knowing he was soon to be caught, moved away to avoid getting his family involved in his arrest.
A Criminal History
- Feb. 10, 2002 - Arrested in Terribonne Parish after he allegedly slapped a woman during a Mardi Gras parade. According to the reports, Dominique accused a woman of hitting a baby stroller in a parking lot. The woman apologized, but Dominique continued to verbally assault her and then slapped her across the face. He was arrested but entered a parish offender’s program instead of standing trial. Reports show he met all his conditions in the program in October 2002.
- May 19, 2000 - He received a summons to appear in court on disturbing the peace charges. Since it was a misdemeanor, he was able to plead guilty and pay a fine to avoid appearing in court.
- Aug. 25, 1996 - Dominique was arrested on forcible rape charges and booked on a $100,000 bond. According to neighbors, a partially dressed young man escaped from the window of Dominique’s home in Thibodaux, screaming that he had tried to kill him. When the case was brought to court, the victim could not be found to testify. In November 1996, the judge continued the case indefinitely.
- May 15, 1994 - Arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and speeding.
- June 12, 1985 - Arrested and charged with telephone harassment. He pleaded guilty, paid a $74 fine and court costs.
Three days after Dominique’s arrest for killing Mitchell and Pierre, investigators said Dominique confessed to 21 other murders, giving details only the killer would know. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty when Dominique goes to trial. Many wonder, with his current health issues, if he’ll live long enough to go to trial.