Nick Saban should be the toast of TigerTown.
LSU's dashing GQ coach is striving to become the first LSU football mentor to enjoy four consecutive winning seasons since Charles McClendon. But LSU students are looking over their shoulders rather than ahead to what promises to be another stellar season on the gridiron.
There is a pall over the LSU campus because of a serial killer, who has taken the lives of at least five women in the Baton Rouge-Lafayette area. The LSU lakes, normally a haven for beautiful co-eds in the spring, are often deserted as students seek cover from a nameless, faceless, gutless assailant who has preyed on attractive, athletic women of achievement.
Three of the victims lived near campus and two were successful graduate students. Charlotte Murray Pace was the youngest person to gain a master's degree from the LSU School of Business. Her death certificate was issued on what would have been her 23rd birthday. She died last May 31 as she courageously fought for her life against a knife-wielding maniac. Pace had migrated to the Baton Rouge area from Jackson, Miss.
Carrie Lynn Yoder was a doctoral student who disappeared on March 3, the Monday before Mardi Gras. Carrie was in her mid-twenties and had left her family's home in Tampa, Fla., to enroll at LSU a few years ago. She lived a few yards from the LSU campus, the third of five houses on Dodson Street.
Yoder's body was found at Whiskey Bay in the same area where the body of 43-year-old Pam Kinamore had been dumped last July. Like me, Kinamore received her degree from Ole War Skule in 1981. She was snared from residence in an upscale neighborhood on July 12. She had arrived home at 11 p.m. after what was thought to be a typical Friday at the antiques store she owned and operated.
It is difficult for students and professors to get enthused about Tiger football when women are being snuffed out in the prime of life by an elusive and cunning killer. The international coverage of the serial killer has made Baton Rouge an unlikely tourist destination. If this murderous mad man is not apprehended soon, the publicity will inevitably effect enrollment at LSU and recruiting by Tiger coaches.
About all that is known for certain about the killer is that he wears bargain sneakers, size ten to eleven. Two of the victims, Pace and Dene' Columb of Lafayette, injured their attacker. Perhaps there is someone reading this column who recalls scratch marks on an individual in June or November of last year.
A six-figure reward has been established for any tip that leads to the arrest and conviction of this most sinister of men. It is essential for the morale and well being of the community that the murderer be apprehended and brought to justice.
As one who has lived in Baton Rouge for more than 20 years, this observer has not witnessed the raw, naked fear that permeates life in the city and on campus. If the killing doesn't stop, Chancellor Mark Emmert will be spending the bulk of his time making LSU an armed fortress of mace-toting co-eds and heat-packing law enforcement types.
Most students who attend LSU share Jerry Stovall's sentiment that their college years are the ones they would relive before any others. Tragically, university existence is now marred by senseless murders of spectacular women by a diabolical loser.
The killer has not only taken the lives of at least five women, he has stifled the joy of students, who should have the luxury of going to Middleton Library of Tiger Stadium without purchasing a fresh supply of pepper spray.
Veteran investigator Gene Fields motes that serial killers either die, leave town or get caught, but they don't stop. By the time LSU tees up another season this fall, the evil one may have an error that results in his capture. Let's hope he is soon in custody and the LSU community can breathe a collective sigh of relief.
When the murderer is caught, Death Valley will once again be a sports metaphor. And Saturday nights at Tiger Stadium will be cause for excitement, not fear and trepidation.