The gruesome murder of 32-year-old Lisa Kerr in California’s San Fernando Valley in March 1999 is the subject of The Killer Closer: Roadside Homicide, which aired on Investigation Discovery.
The rest of the program shows how an obsession can ultimately be deadly, as well as the investigative method that was eventually successful in finding the perpetrator of the crime. We’re here to help if you want to know more about the incident, the perpetrator’s name and current whereabouts. Shall we start this party?
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Lisa Kerr: Cause of Death
On March 24, 1999, San Fernando Valley firefighters extinguished the fire caused by a burning 1994 Ford Probe parked alongside the northbound Hollywood Freeway at the Roscoe Boulevard exit. They discovered a burned person in the vehicle and called the police and a fire investigator to the scene.
They were able to positively identify the charred body of 32-year-old Lisa Lorraine Kerr thanks to a driver’s license they obtained from a purse found in the vehicle. In addition, they uncovered evidence that suggested the fire had been started intentionally, as well as traces of the use of an accelerant.
According to the results of the autopsy, smoke inhalation and thermal burns were the main causes of death. Further investigation revealed that although there was a risk of suffocation, the burned remains made it impossible to determine whether or not it was a factor.
Despite this, the coroner concluded that Lisa was still alive when the fire broke out, but was most likely unconscious because she did not attempt to flee the building. The results of her toxicology test showed that she also had modest amounts of carbon monoxide in her system, confirming the hypothesis that an accelerant was used in the incident.
Details of Lisa Kerr’s killer
Initially, police considered Calvin Kerr, Lisa’s ex-husband, as a possible suspect in the murder. According to the results of the investigation, Calvin had a troubled past relationship, but was ultimately exonerated as a suspect. As the investigation into Lisa’s life progressed, authorities were finally able to come up with a name: Donald Lewis Brooks Jr., who worked as a plumber. He had not been seen or heard from since the day the crime was committed.
In October 1997, Lisa and Donald first met at an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) dance. They had an affair behind each other’s backs for ten months, and it wasn’t until August 1998 that Donald told another AA member, Mark Harvey, about it.
Donald stated that he loved Lisa, but he was angry and frustrated when Lisa recently decided to reunite with Calvin because of their son. Donald believed his son would be better off without either parent. He didn’t want the affair to end, and he reportedly admitted to telling others that he was intent on stabbing Calvin or taking other drastic measures to “get him out of the picture.” Lisa confided to some of her friends and acquaintances that she began to fear Donald when he began to show his true colors, which was that of a vengeful and jealous person. Lisa told one of her friends that Donald, fascinated by her, was there “every time she turned around,” standing in front of her home or business, watching her. Donald had followed her and harassed her because he was obsessed with her.
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How was the killer caught?
After Lisa’s divorce from her husband and subsequent move to her own apartment in January 1999, she continued to accept financial support from Donald, despite her misgivings. After naming himself and Lisa as tenants on the lease Donald had signed, he gave Lisa the document to sign. Many of Lisa’s friends and acquaintances claim that she only let Donald into her life “for the money.” After questioning Mark, investigators determined that Donald had allegedly threatened to harm Mark and his children if Mark allowed Lisa to rent a room in his home. This information was obtained during Mark’s interview with investigators.
After reviewing Donald’s cell phone records, investigators determined that he made a call around 4:23 am on March 24, 1999 from the scene of the crime. This was a few minutes before firefighters arrived at the scene.
Also, the locations of his cell towers showed that he had made two calls from near Lisa’s house that evening. Police were able to trace his whereabouts to Colorado, where he had been living under an alias. He had even admitted to one of his roommates, David Jayne, that he killed his ex-girlfriend by strangling her. This led police to his location. After another four months, in July 1999, he was taken into custody.
After being extradited to California 5 days later, he confessed to his former plumber that he heard Lisa and Harvey laughing at him on March 23, 1998. This happened after he was transported to California. Donald, overcome with resentment, “just couldn’t take it” and accosted Lisa as she left the house. He then strangled the woman and placed her lifeless body in the trunk of her car. He then drove to the scene of the crime, set fire to the vehicle and then fled to Colorado.
Current whereabouts of Donald Brooks
In June 2001, Donald stood trial on first-degree murder, stalking and arson causing serious bodily harm and was found guilty on all three counts. The defense, which attempted to find him guilty of first degree manslaughter in the heat of passion, was unsuccessfully presented to the jury, resulting in the dismissal of the case.
They were also charged with “special circumstances of murder while carrying out a kidnapping and murder with the use of torture”.
Donald was sentenced to death, and in March 2017 he attempted to appeal the decision; However, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding the verdict. Official court documents show the 57-year-old prisoner is currently being held in a cell on death row at San Quentin State Prison in the state of California.
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