BATON ROUGE, La. – Police searched Wednesday for a suspicious stranger who accosted a woman across the street from the home of one of the victims of the Baton Rouge serial killer.
The 18-year-old woman sprayed Mace at the man, but it was unclear if the self-defense chemical even hit him, Col. Mike Barnett of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's office said.
"He was approaching her in what she felt was a threatening manner," Barnett said. He said the stranger did not speak to her or touch her.
The Tuesday night incident is the latest in a city on edge after police confirmed that three murders were the work of a serial killer. There also have been three reported kidnapping attempts in Ascension, Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes in a week. Police said it's unclear if any of incidents were connected to the serial killer, but they were investigating any possible links.
The woman had been visiting a house across the street from the home of victim Pam Kinamore. She was loading items into her vehicle when a man standing in front of bushes in a neighboring lot began to walk toward her, said Lt. Darrell O'Neal with the sheriff's department.
The woman sprayed at the man, who was described as white, in his 20s, wearing a black shirt, blue jeans and a tan cap. He turned and ran, but the victim didn't know how he left or what type of vehicle he had, Barnett said.
"The mere fact he fled leads us to believe he was there for some threatening purpose," he said.
Police said there were no witnesses. The woman left immediately and called police, Barnett said.
Police swarmed the subdivision. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies responded to the call, and dogs were used to search a vacant lot near the subdivision.
In a related investigation, police arrested Jeremiah Pastor for going into the home of another of the serial killer's victims, Charlotte Murray Pace, a week after the murder, when the area was cordoned off with police tape.
Pastor, 24, was booked Wednesday with one count of unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling for allegedly climbing into the window of his neighbor's house, said Cpl. Mary Ann Godawa, a spokeswoman for the city police.
"He wanted to just see. He wanted to see inside the residence," Godawa said.
She said the crime scene was not damaged but she wouldn't say if police collected further evidence from the scene after Pastor went inside.
Godawa said Pastor was not a suspect in the serial killings.
Police said DNA evidence links the murders of Pace, Kinamore and Gina Wilson Green.
Green, a 41-year-old nurse, was found strangled in her home Sept. 24. Pace, 22, a recent graduate of Louisiana State University, was stabbed to death May 31. Kinamore, 44, a decorator and antique store owner, was abducted from her home July 12. The killer slit her throat and dumped her body at an exit off Interstate 10, about 30 miles away from Baton Rouge.
Baton Rouge police said they have not determined if there is a connection between the serial killings and a man who posed as a police officer and raped a woman at a rest stop near Slidell last month.
St. Tammany Parish officials said the rape likely is not connected, but Baton Rouge officials said Wednesday that the possibility hadn't been eliminated.
"As soon as it can be positively eliminated, we will let you know," Godawa said.
Preliminary DNA tests were ordered after police determined the serial killer may have been driving a white 1996 or 1997 Chevrolet pickup truck similar to one used in the July 14 rape.
"The testing of the DNA samples hasn't been completed yet, but the preliminary results show that there probably isn't going to be a connection between the rape and murders," St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Tiffany Tate told the Times-Picayune.