Hypnosis led to 'white man, white truck' hysteria in Derrick Todd Lee case
It was July 23rd 2003, two weeks after Pam Kinamore was found dead near the Whiskey Bay, when investigators announced they had a lead into who may have killed her.
A witness came forward saying she may have seen a dead woman inside a truck in the area at that time, but investigators needed more details, so they turned to a controversial technique.
During a session of hypnosis, the witness claimed to remember details about the truck's appearance and it's occupants.
In 2002, WBRZ spoke to hypnotherapist Conrad Adams, who has since died, to learn how it works.
"Forensic hypnosis is using hypnosis to go back into the subconscious memories of the individual to make those memories come forth more vividly into the conscious awareness," Adams said.
He explained that the brain records details we may not even realize and the witness was reportedly able to "remember" more.
Under hypnosis, it was revealed that the paint on the truck was aging and the driver was a white man with a thin to medium build.
After investigators determined that the suspect was most likely a serial killer, responsible for the deaths of Kinamore, Charlotte Murray Pace, and Gina Wilson Green, the theory of a white man in a white truck spread like wildfire and lead to thousands of men getting swabbed.
"I was skeptical while this investigation was going on about the white guy in the white truck because the whole thing didn't add up to me," John Sinquefield, who prosecuted Derrick Todd Lee, said.
Though Lee did own a white pick up truck, and was offered as a suspect by police in Zachary, he was overlooked for a long time due to the fact that he, as a black man, didn't fit the witness's description.
Sinquefield says he wouldn't rely on hypnosis as a investigative technique.
"When you try a capital murder case, if you have a witness whose credibility is dependent on being hypnotized, I would be very weary of that. I don't know if I could depend on that."
Based on the belief in the witness's account, investigators spent more than 8 months focused on a white man. In that time, Lee would kill two more women, Dene Colomb and Carrie Yoder.
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