Investigators Allegedly Connect Two Unsolved 2010 Double Slayings Through DNA
Cold case detectives reopened the cold case after a television show contacted local police.
Three men in Louisiana are under arrest for the cold-case slaying of a couple over a decade ago, and DNA allegedly shows the trio also may be responsible for another set of unsolved murders, authorities said.
Around 1:30 a.m. June 17, 2010, police found Charles Davis and his former girlfriend, Hermania Ellsworth, fatally shot inside their car that had crashed into a tree outside the home of Herbert Glass, and Lynette Williams. The victims’ 3-year-old son who was in the vehicle at the time was treated for injuries sustained in the crash.
Weeks later, on July 8, a torched vehicle belonging to the homeowners, Glass, 58, and 42-year-old Williams, was abandoned on an interstate exit. The following day, the couple’s bodies were found bound with duct tape and floating in Lake Pontchartrain. The two had also been shot.
At the time, police believed the four murders were related, but the case went cold for over a decade.
In spring 2021, the show Unsolved Mysteries contacted Kenner police about the Ellsworth and Davis killings and the department decided to assign cold case detective Nick Engler to take a fresh look at the case.
Authorities recently announced they now have three suspects in custody in connection to the murders in the car. Dernell Nelson, 35, was arrested on April 22, followed by 35-year-old Lee Williams eight days later. The third suspect, Zetonio Lightfoot, 31, was already incarcerated on an unrelated charge and arrested at Richland Parish Detention Center in Rayville on May 3.
Call from 'Unsolved Mysteries' TV show leads to arrest in 11-year-old killing of Louisiana couple https://t.co/iMIViZd7sf #10TV pic.twitter.com/uffuzxDlBI— 10TV (@10TV) April 24, 2021
The three men each face two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Davis and Ellsworth.
According to Nola.com, Detective Engler discovered roughly 10-year-old DNA test results during the renewed investigation, however, authorities have not commented on why there were never any arrests until recently.
At a June probable cause hearing in Jefferson Parish Magistrate Court, Engler detailed how DNA from the three suspects allegedly was recovered from the driver’s side headrest of Davis and Ellsworth’s crashed car, the news outlet reported.
Forensic evidence allegedly also linked the three suspects to the second set of murders. “The tape binding the ankles of Herbert Glass had DNA profiles consistent with the three defendants,” Engler testified in court.
According to Engler, Nelson allegedly got into an argument and killed Davis and Ellsworth in their car. The possible motive for murder, said the detective, was a safe containing around $300,000 that the victim, Davis, may have stolen the prior month.
Tip from “Unsolved Mysteries” helps close 2010 cold case of two Louisiana murders— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) April 24, 2021
An arrest has finally been made in the deaths of Hermania Ellsworth and Charles Davis.https://t.co/WhJYBFiuvz
The detective, citing an unnamed informant, testified the three suspects had conspired to steal the money and Lightfoot, who was Davis’ cousin, set up the ill-fated meeting.
Nola.com reported relatives of the second set of victims, Herbert Glass and Lynette Williams, who is not related to Lee Williams, were targeted after Lynette Williams either witnessed the crash outside her home or spoke with the murdered couple in their car shortly after.
Nelson, Lightfoot and Williams reportedly do not currently face charges in connection to the second case as the investigation into Glass and Williams’ execution deaths continues.
The three suspects have denied they had anything to do with the four murders.
Stream full episodes of Unsolved Mysteries now on discovery+.