Louisiana Serial Killer’s Art For Sale


BY KORAN ADDO Westside bureau January 30, 2012

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Convicted serial killer Derrick Todd Lee has artwork for sale online with at least one drawing selling a day afterit was posted on the site.

A colored pencil drawing of a panda bear eating bamboo is selling for $75 and another colored pencil drawing of two swans against a sunset backdrop,which is listed as “out of stock,” were both posted on serialkillersink.net, a crime memorabilia website started by Jacksonville, Fla., husband and wife,Eric and Jessika Gein.

The site offers certificates of authenticity for the locks of hair, artwork,Christmascards and other personaleffects provided to the site by convicted killers.

But, without an explanation, Lee’s drawings and a letter he wrote — that was on sale for $30 — were removed Friday from the website’s main page. The drawings, however,were still available on the website’s online store Sunday evening.

Although a disclaimer says the cannibals, mass shooters and serialkillers promoted onthe website don’t profit from the items they submit, records from aninmate services website, called JPay, show that since January 2010 co-founder Jessika Gein has sent installments totaling $700 to at least six convicted murderers nationwide,including a $20 payment to Lee earlier this month.

During a telephone interview last week,Gein denied sending money to inmates. She also said she has never directly corresponded with Lee. Prison authorities, however, said they have records disputing those claims.

Louisiana doesn’t have a law preventing inmates from profiting from their notoriety, but authorities at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola launched an investigation Wednesday into whether Lee violated prison policy by mailing items he knew were going to be sold,and whether he expected to profit from their sale.

Lee, 43, was sentenced to death in 2004 for the first-degree murder of 22-year-old Baton Rouge resident Charlotte Murray Pace. He is also serving a life sentence for the murder of Geralyn DeSoto, 21,of Addis. Authoritieshave identified him as a suspect in the murders of five other south Louisiana women between 1998 and 2003.

May 31 will mark the 10-year anniversary of Pace’s murder. Her mother, Ann Pace, reacted Friday to Lee’s most recent pursuit.

“It’s like we can never be rid of him. Like he reaches out from some dark place and stabs you in the heart. Who in the name of heaven buys these things,” she asked. “It’s like it sucks the breath out of you and takes you back to such a dark place.”

Jessika Gein,29, who said she used to work in real estate,and her husband, Eric, 42, a graphic designer, launched serialkillersink.net in 2008 after years of corresponding with inmates.

The couple’s shared interest inthe macabre led them into what’s she called “murderabilia”or the murder memorabilia industry, she said. They run their website full-time.

“A lot of serial killers enjoy doing art. It’sa nice outlet for them,” Gein said. “We found out there’s a strong market for this stuff. We have a very broad range of customers: doctors, lawyers, soccer moms; you name it.”

Gein said she and her husband each correspond with about 50 inmates at any given time.

“I genuinely have an interest in these people,” Jessika Gein said. “I have questionsto ask them. If they seem like a person I’d like to get to know, I’ll pick up a pen and write to them.”

Gein said a friend of Lee’s approached her a few months ago, offering to sell the killer’s artwork. She declined to say how much she paid.

Gein said she knew the artwork was authentic because it arrived signed and dated by Lee in an envelope with Angola’s address on it. The envelope also had a death row stamp on the front, she said.

Gein posted the items on her website two weeks ago. The drawing of the swans sold in one day, she said.

Jessika Gein said she and her husband don’t put too much thought into how their business affects crime victims.

“I’m not really thinking about the victims. We don’t go out of our way to advertise our website; it’s for certain people who are looking for the kinds of things we sell,” she said. “We’re not out to hurt feelings,but feelings do get hurt.”

Angola WardenBurlCain said investigators spoke to Lee on Thursday after learning his artwork had been posted online.

Lee admitted mailing his drawings to Gein, but indicated that he didn’t know they were going to be sold, Cain said.

Lee, one of 80 offenders on death row at Angola,spends 23 hours a day in his cell. Death row inmates are given sketch pads, colored-pencils and glue to keep themselves busy. They are allowed — with some restrictions — to mail their drawings and letters to whom they choose, Cain said.

“It looks like the website scammed him; they’re horrible people,” Cain said. “He was being nice because she was flirty. He didn’t have a clue they were going to be sold. This is appalling to us because we have to think of the victims. Victims trump in our business.”

Col. Bobby Achord, head of  investigations at Angola, said Gein sent Lee a Christmas card in December to which the inmate responded, hoping to establish a penpal relationship.

Identifying herself as Jessika Miller, Gein sent Lee another note on Jan. 5 with a picture of a blonde woman and wired $20 to his prison account using JPay.

A portion of Gein’s letter to Lee reads: “I’m sorry to hear about you not being able to send pictures, some people have to ruin it for everyone, I guess… I’m glad you took the time to write me back! I’d like some of your art you speak about. Thanks for letting me know that you can accept JPay. I sent $20 to your account.”

Lee mailed his drawings to Gein shortly after receiving the note, Achord said.

While Lee may have violated state Department of Corrections rules,there is no Louisiana law preventing him from earning money from his drawings.

A deadline also has passed for Lee’s victims’ families to seek compensation through the state’s victims reparations statute.

East Baton Rouge Parish First Assistant District Attorney Prem Burnssaid the statute allows relatives of murdered victims to apply for up to $25,000 from a convicted offender within one year of the conviction being finalized,or once the state Supreme Court denies a defendant’s first application for appeal.

“There really isn’t any law in Louisiana stopping someone like Derrick Todd Lee from doing this,”Burns said. “It’s offensive and I would think one of our legislators would want to address this.”

 

I agree that convicts should not be able to profit from their crimes. I am still against banning all murderablilia, I just do not know how regulations would work or what kind of nets can b put into place to make sure the killers are not making the money.

I also think that the law restricting how long a family has to collect or file for compensation from a criminal has to be changed. 1 year is way way to short. Actually there should never be a deadline. A judge should set the compensation and it should have to be paid off, no time limits.
As far as Lee being taken advantage of, ha! I hope that was not supposed to make me feel bad for him.

  1. Unless the money is going to the victims of crime, I don’t think killers should be allowed to make a cent.It’s just another way for them to seek attention.

    • There has to be a way to monitor the accounts of the prisoners.
      There also has to be a way to ‘garnish’ their money. The government can do it to non criminals.
      That way even if someone sends them money as an exchange a victims’ fund gets a part of the money. Same way the government can garnish the wages of people not locked up..

  2. Doesn’t Johnny Depp collect murder memorabilia? Or paintings of clowns by murderers or something like that?

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