Piecing together the lives of ‘Killing Fields' victims

HOUSTON – Police are hoping newly released names of two women found off Calder Road in League City will lead to new clues in a series of murders that have gone unsolved for decades.

The women were found in 1986 and 1991 and until now only went by the names Jane and Janet Doe.

“We hope that new leads and information can be developed that will help bring justice to these victims and their families,” said League City police Chief Gary Ratliff.

Jane Doe is Audrey Lee Cook from the Tennessee area. Janet Doe is Donna Prudhomme, originally from the Beaumont-Port Arthur area. Advances in DNA and genealogical research helped police put names to faces. Now the work begins to delve into their lives. 

PHOTOS: 'Killing Fields' victims identified

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“The investigation now is hopefully going to take a whole new turn,” Lt. Michael Buffington said.

Four women were found murdered in this area over a seven-year period. Laura Miller and Heidi Fye are the other two victims.

No suspect has ever been formally accused in these murders, but police said several "persons of interest," remain persons of interest “to this day.”

TIMELINE: The Texas Killing Fields murders

“Now that we have them identified we want to learn everything about them from who they hung out with, what they did, what they do in their spare time. Everything we can,” said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Richard Rennison.

Police do know Cook moved to the Houston/Channelview area with a girlfriend, but the relationship ended about a year before her disappearance. Buffington said Cook wrote letters to family back home and family would wire her money to help her through rough patches in her life. The last time anyone heard from Cook was December 1985. 

READ: A new lead or another ghost in 'Killing Fields' murders?

Buffington said when one of Cook's parents became gravely ill an uncle came to Houston to try to find her. 

“They wanted her to come back home for the funeral. He was unable to locate her and I believe that was around '85 or '86,” Buffington said. 

Buffington said Prudhomme first went to Austin to escape an abusive relationship.

“The father of her children, very abusive relationship. Some of the injuries she had on her were sustained previous from that relationship,” Buffington said. 


Prudhomme then moved to Seabrook in 1988.

“We don't know what brought her here or if she came with somebody else. That's part of the mystery that we're hoping that the public can help us with,” Buffington said.

Police do know Prudhomme had two sons. Both were sent to live with their grandparents. One son passed away, and police say the other son suspected something bad happened to his mother but also assumed his mom was just living a different life. 

WATCH: Authorities reveal identities of 2 'Killing Fields' victims

“It gave him some peace -- his mom just didn't abandon him, which is what he always thought, you know, his mom just moved on and forgot about him and started living her own life,” Buffington said. 

READ: Lawsuit filed over killing fields murders

Buffington said while family members did try to find their relatives, no formal missing persons' report was filed for either. Buffington said many relatives thought the women had decided to start new chapters of their lives and lost contact.

About the Author:

Award winning investigative journalist who joined KPRC 2 in July 2000. Husband and father of the Master of Disaster and Chaos Gremlin. “I don’t drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”