Police say ‘serial sexual murderer’ responsible for woman’s ’97 death

District police say a man classified as “a convicted serial sexual murderer” is responsible for the 1997 case in which a woman’s torso was found in a plastic bag in Northwest Washington.

Police said they have enough probable cause to charge Darryl Donnell Turner for the slaying of 41-year-old Jessica Cole but they will not seek to prosecute him because he already is serving life in prison without the possibility for parole for the rape and death of two other women in the same Petworth neighborhood.

Turner, who had long been suspected by police in Cole’s death, recently admitted to killing Cole during a round of re-interviews, said Inspector Rodney Parks, of the D.C. Violent Crimes unit. Prosecutors reviewed the confession and officially approved the case for closure Monday, Parks said.

“This guy was essentially targeting women involved in high-risk behavior,” said Parks, who credited Detective Danny Whalen with closing the case.

Cole’s torso was found behind a building at 1465 Meridian Place NW on Oct. 14, 1998.

She was one of six women found dead in Petworth in the a span of a year, including four who had been found in the immediate vicinity of Turner’s home in the 700 block of Princeton Place. Cole had once lived on Princeton Place.

In 2002, Turner was sentenced to life for killing two of those women, Jacqueline Birch, 39, and 24-year-old Dana Hill.

Turner, a former liquor store clerk, raped and murdered Birch on the night of Nov. 16, 1997, and left her body in an abandoned building at 766 Princeton Place NW, right next door to Turner’s home. Two weeks later, police said, Turner raped and murdered Hill and left her body in an abandoned Roy Rogers restaurant in the 300 block of Florida Avenue NE.

Other bodies had been found in the immediate area during the same time. Emile Dennis, 42, was found in crawl space beneath Turner’s town house. Lateashia Blocker, 28, was discovered in the same empty row house where Birch was found six months later. Police in 2006 charged a District Heights man in Blocker’s death.
Turner also has been charged in the slayings of two women whose bodies were found, in 1994 and 1995, in the same field in Northeast Washington. The disposition of those two cases was unclear late Monday.
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