BATON ROUGE, La. — A suspected serial killer was arrested in Louisiana last week after he called a sheriff's office and claimed responsibility for a string of shootings that killed three men and wounded a fourth, according to a law enforcement official.
Ryan Sharpe, 36, wasn't a suspect in the shootings until he called the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office last Wednesday and identified himself as the killer, said the official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
After the call ended, the sheriff's office called Sharpe again but he didn't answer, according to the official. However, Sharpe later called them back and once again identified himself as the shooter they were seeking, the official said.
The calls immediately led investigators to Sharpe's home in Clinton, where officers saw him drive away in a white four-door Nissan Altima. They tried to pull him over but he led them on a high-speed car chase that eventually ended with his arrest, authorities said.
Sheriff Jeff Travis has said Sharpe confessed when investigators questioned him after his arrest, but the sheriff declined last week to say how authorities identified Sharpe as a suspect. Greg Phares, chief deputy for the sheriff's office, said Tuesday that he couldn't disclose any additional details of the investigation.
Sharpe, the owner of a plumbing company, faces three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. A judge appointed the Baton Rouge-based public defender's office to represent Sharpe, according to chief district defender Michael Mitchell, who said he couldn't comment.
The shootings occurred in a rural area north of Baton Rouge and left residents on edge for weeks after the first killing in July. All four shooting victims were middle-aged or older white men who were shot at their homes or on their property. Sharpe also is white.
The latest killing occurred Oct. 9, when Brad DeFranceschi was gunned down while the Boy Scouts employee trimmed weeds in front of his house, authorities said. DeFranceschi lived on Boy Scouts camp property in Clinton, a town of 1,600 people about 30 miles from the state capital.
Tommy Bass, 62, was killed in his carport on July 8 at his East Feliciana Parish home. Buck Hornsby, 47, was wounded while exercising on his property on Sept. 12 in Clinton. Carroll Breeden, 66, was shot to death on Sept. 19 while doing yard work in front of his home in Pride.
Detectives found "significant physical evidence" linking Sharpe to the shootings, Travis said last week. The Louisiana State Police crime lab matched bullets found at two of the shooting scenes, according to a sheriff's office report.