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Ellwood indicted Monday in St. Charles for murder

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / March 25, 1998

HAHNVILLE – Russell Ellwood, arrested March 3 in connection with the deaths of two women whose bodies were found five years ago near Hahnville, was indicted Monday by the St. Charles Parish Grand Jury on twocounts of second-degree murder and one count of perjury.

The added count of perjury was based on Ellwood’s grand jury testimony during which he testified he was denied an attorney’s presence during questioning by detectives.

Ellwood, 47, was booked on two counts of second-degree murder in the case which St. Charles Parish Greg Champagne admitted is largelycircumstantial in nature.

However, several remarks reportedly made by Ellwood to fellow inmates in Florida have help build the case.

The former New Orleans cab driver reportedly told one inmate he enjoyed the fun of having sex with people not in control of their bodies, and added he would dose prostitutes with drug mixtures and “got off watching their eyes roll to the back of their head.”He allegedly told officers: “I’m willing to say I met a black female. I puther in the back seat, that’s where all my fares went, and that I took her out in St. Charles, where I was later stopped and I put her body in water.I’m willing to give you that.”Champagne said he doesn’t think the case’s outcome is a foregone conclusion but he said Tuesday he wished he could prosecute this case.

“I’m glad the grand jury confirmed our belief that there was sufficient evidence to proceed to trial,” added Champagne, a former assistant district attorney.

Ellwood is charged with the murders of Cheryl Lewis, 31, and Dolores Mack, 41, found one day apart near Louisiana Highway 3160 in Hahnville.

Prosecution will be handled in the 29th Judicial District Court by Assistant Attorney General Doug Freese.

Freese had little comment after the true bill was issued by the grand jury, saying only he couldn’t even speculate at this point as to when the case may come to trial.

Arraignment on the charges is scheduled April 8, according to Freese.

Ellwood is suspected in at least 25 murders from Algiers to Tangipahoa Parish and is being held on a $1,050,000 bond while awaiting trial and as the multi-jurisdictional investigation continues.

The task force, under the command of Lt. Sue Rushing of the JeffersonParish Sheriff’s Office, was formed in May 1995 in an effort to track down what was believed to be a serial killer responsible for more than two dozen murders.

The suspect or suspects were believed to have left bodies everywhere from Orleans and Jefferson parishes to St. Charles and St. John the Baptistparishes, dating back to August 1991. The most recent incident is believedto have occurred in 1996.

Lewis’ autopsy showed she died from drowning, with cocaine and amphetamines present in her blood. Mack’s autopsy showed she died fromsuffocation and strangulation, and cocaine was also present in her blood.

Anyone with information to assist the continuing investigation is urged to phone Sgt. Olga Fourroux, Lt. Sue Rushing or Detective Phillip Ramon of thetask force office at 466-7448 or 466-6573.

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