Criminal Minds Wiki

You know what I do to bitches like you? I kill them.

Russell Ellwood was a suspected serial killer and one of the two top suspects of a series of slayings of local women in New Orleans, Louisiana.


"I'm willing to confess to two cases and give you all the details when I return to Louisiana."

Little is known about Ellwood's early life, other than he was possibly born in Massillon, Ohio and served time in Ohio and Florida for drug charges and probation violations. Always on the suspect list, he agreed to move to New Orleans, Louisiana, on January to clear his name and solve his cases. However, upon entering the state, Ellwood was soon arrested for traffic charges. He eventually found a job as a freelance photographer, but quit for unspecified reasons and then became a taxi driver, using his vehicle as his own home when he couldn't afford a boarding house. Ellwood later inherited $15,000 from his mother but lost it all by investing it in penny stocks. For unknown reasons, he started killing, claiming the life of his first confirmed victim, Cheryl Lewis, by drugging her and then drowning her in a canal on February 1-3 of 1993. Afterward, he dumped her body alongside Highway LA 3160 in Hahnville, Louisiana. On February 2, Lewis was reported missing by her mother Lillian. Delores Mack was also killed, being drugged first and then fatally strangled. Lewis and Mack's bodies were found on February 21 and February 22, respectively. These two murders were part of a series of killings of at least 26 prostitutes spanning from 1991 to 1996. A year later, a partially-undressed Ellwood returned to the crime scene of Cheryl Lewis in the middle of the night and was spotted by two off-duty St. Charles Parish Deputies. He claimed that he was trying to change the oil in his taxi in a location where no one could see him dumping the dirty oil outside. The deputies didn't find any motor oil, oil-changing supplies, oil filters, or brake pads in Ellwood's taxi, but they let him go.

This act would be the factor to his arrest, for in 1997, two years after a task force investigating the New Orleans killings was formed, said task force classified Ellwood as a suspect. When Colonel Walter T. Gorman and other members of the task force approached Ellwood in Sebring, Florida, he was stated to be cooperative and claimed that he had "dreamed" of the moment that he was interrogated by a serial killer task force. Also, one of Ellwood's acquaintances from a Florida jail confirmed to investigators that Ellwood had once told him that he enjoyed having sex with drugged persons who were completely unable to control their bodies as a result of the induced effects of the drugs. However, he was cleared of any involvement. On August 4, 1997, he was arrested on drug charges and was incarcerated for 85 days. During this time, he bragged to inmates about his murders of Louisiana murders. Ellwood was placed on probation and moved to Canton, Ohio, to work for his brother. The task force interviewed him again, and this time, he confessed to dumping a black female body in water off a rural road, details similar to the disposal of Cheryl Lewis's body. Ellwood was arrested and charged for two counts of second-degree murder, though his lawyers argued that he was in Ohio at the time of both killings. However, this was disproved by receipts by Ellwood that have a mysterious two-week-long gap in February. He was taken to court, where several inmates that knew Ellwood testified against him. On February 24, 1999, one of the two murder charges against Ellwood, that of Dolores Mack, was dropped as it was revealed he was in Ohio at the time of her murder. Ellwood expressed hope that the second murder charge would be dropped too, but it held its ground.

After that point, sources don't reveal whether Ellwood was found guilty or not of the remaining murder charge. It can be assumed that he was, as he revisited the crime scene like traditional serial killers do, but as far as it is known, no information on the subject has been revealed.

Ellwood died at Angola State Prison in Angola, Louisiana in 2014 according to Sgt. Roger St. Laurent of the Highlands County, Florida Sheriff's Office. This was discovered after the HCSO reopened the Cheryl Khachigan case from December 1995. Khachigan, a 46 year old woman with a history of mental health issues, had been found in a ditch off Scrub Pens Road by a man installing mailboxes. Her cause of death was unknown, however she had been found partially nude and her bra pulled up. There was no evidence of sexual assault.

Ellwood had been living in Sebring, Florida at the time of Khachigan's death; working as a laborer at Labor Finders. He was in the area for approximately six months before moving back to Louisiana and subsequently was charged with Lewis' murder. Ellwood was originally questioned by HCSO about Khachigan's death in the late 1990's, however he denied any involvement. He remains a person of interest in Khachigan's death.

Modus Operandi

If he was indeed the perpetrator of the New Orleans serial killings, Ellwood usually targeted prostitutes, whom he incapacitated by drugging them before killing them in a variety of ways, usually strangulation or suffocation. Cheryl Lewis was killed by fatal drowning, while Delores Mack was strangled to death.

Known Victims

  • 1993:
    • February 1-3: Cheryl Lewis (drowned; found on February 21; it is unknown if the charges against Ellwood were dropped)
    • February 22 (found): Delores Mack (possibly; strangled; the charges were dropped)
  • Note: In addition to the two aforementioned murders, Ellwood is suspected to have perpetrated at least 15 other murders.

On Criminal Minds

  • Season Two
    • "The Last Word" - Ellwood was possibly referenced by Reid in "The Last Word" when the team talks about instances when two independent serial killers are active simultaneously and is referred to as one of two serial killers active in New Orleans. The other serial killer appears to be Victor Gant.