Investigation Discovery’s ‘The Killer Closer: Roadside Homicide’ follows the brutal murder of 32-year-old Lisa Kerr in San Fernando Valley, California, in March 1999. The episode goes on to depict how obsession can prove to be fatal and the investigation process that ultimately helped capture the killer and bring them to justice. If you want to know more about the case as well as the identity and current whereabouts of the perpetrator, we’ve your back. Let’s start, shall we?
How Did Lisa Kerr Die?
On March 24, 1999, firefighters extinguished a burning 1994 Ford Probe adjacent to the southbound Hollywood Freeway in the San Fernando Valley at the Roscoe Boulevard exit ramp. They found a burnt body inside the car, and the police and an arson investigator were called to the crime scene. From the purse found in the car, they got a driver’s license which helped identify that the charred body belonged to 32-year-old Lisa Lorraine Kerr. The authorities also found evidence that pointed toward the fire being intentional as well as traces of the use of an accelerant.
The autopsy report stated smoke inhalation and thermal injuries as the primary cause of death. It further disclosed that while strangulation may have also played a role, the charred remains make it impossible to evaluate. However, the medical examiner concluded that Lisa was alive when the fire started but probably unconscious as she did not make any attempt to escape. Her toxicology report also showed that she had low levels of carbon monoxide in her bloodstream, thus confirming the suspicion of the use of an accelerant.
Who Killed Lisa Kerr?
Initially, the police suspected Lisa Kerr’s former husband, Calvin Kerr, as a suspect in the murder. As per the investigators, Calvin had had a rocky relationship with Lisa but was eventually cleared as a suspect. As the police looked further into Lisa’s life, they came up with a name — Donald Lewis Brooks Jr., a plumber by profession. He had been absconding since the day of the crime. Lisa met Donald at an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) dance in October 1997. As per the show, they had a secret affair for 10 months, with Donald admitting it to another AA member, Mark Harvey, in August 1998.
Donald admitted to being in love with Lisa but was angry and frustrated when Lisa had lately decided to reconcile with Calvin for their son’s sake. The show further mentioned Donald did not want to end the affair and even allegedly said he aspired to stab Calvin or take other measures to “get him out of the picture.” As a jealous and vengeful Donald started to show his true colors, Lisa admitted to many friends and acquaintances that she was afraid of him.
An obsessed Donald had resorted to stalking and harassing her, as Lisa confided to one of her friends that he was there “every time she turned around,” standing outside her home or workplace and watching her. Despite her fears, Lisa used to take financial assistance from Donald after splitting up with Calvin. She moved to her apartment in January 1999. Donald had signed the rental agreement where he had named both him and Lisa as tenants. According to many friends and acquaintances, Lisa allowed Donald in her life “only for the money.”
The investigators interviewed Mark to find that Donald had allegedly threatened to harm him and his children if he allowed Lisa to rent a room in his house. They reviewed Donald‘s cellular records to find that he had made a call at around 4:23 am on March 24, 1999, from the crime scene – minutes before the firefighters had reached. His cell tower locations also revealed that he had made two calls from near Lisa’s residence that night. The police traced his location to Colorado, where he had been living under an alias.
As per the show, Donald had even confessed to one of his roommates, David Jayne, that he had strangled his ex-girlfriend. He was arrested four months later, in July 1999. After being extradited to California 5 days later, he confessed to his former plumbing assistant that he had heard Lisa and Mark belittling him on March 23, 1998. A jealous Donald “just couldn’t take it” and confronted Lisa just when she was leaving, strangling her and laying the unconscious woman in the backseat of her car. Then he had driven to the crime scene and lit the car on fire before escaping to Colorado.
Where is Donald Brooks Today?
Donald Brooks went to trial in June 2001 and was found guilty on counts of first-degree murder, stalking, and arson causing great bodily injury. The jury rejected the defense’s account that tried to make him guilty of the heat of passion voluntary manslaughter instead. They also asserted the “special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of a kidnapping and murder involving the infliction of torture.”
Donald was ultimately handed the death sentence. He tried to appeal against it in March 2017, but the Supreme Court of California upheld the judgment. According to official court records, the 57-year-old is currently on death row in a prison cell at the San Quentin State Prison in California.