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Freed suspect is wanted in hunt for serial killer

Police hunting a serial killer believed to be responsible for the deaths of at least five women in Louisiana have identified as their prime suspect a 34-year-old man they interviewed two weeks ago and released.

Detectives said that DNA samples taken from the scene of some of the crimes matched a sample given to them by Derrick Lee, a construction worker from southern Louis-iana. Acting on a tip, police called in Mr Lee for questioning two weeks ago and he voluntarily provided a DNA sample before being freed. Neighbours said he disappeared soon afterwards.

FBI officials said yesterday they believed Mr Lee was still in the Atlanta area. He was reported to have been seen in the Georgia city on Monday. "We think it was just an easy place he thought he could fade into," said one FBI officer.

Police in Baton Rouge on Monday identified Mr Lee as the prime suspect in the killings of Gina Wilson Green, Charlotte Murray Pace, Pam Kinamore, Trineisha Dene Colomb and Carrie Lynn Yoder, who were all killed in the past two years. Officials said several samples taken from Mr Lee matched DNA evidence taken from the five killings under investigation.

"He is to be considered armed and dangerous," said the police chief Pat Englade, head of the task force investigating the killings, as Mr Lee's picture was released.

Reports suggest that Mr Lee has a record of arrests on charges of peeping into homes, stalking, burglary and criminal trespass.

After a fight in a bar, he was arrested for allegedly breaching a roadblock and accused of the attempted first-degree murder of a policeman, according to The Advocate, a newspaper in Baton Rouge.