He Wanted to be Called “Hi Hitler”
Donald Leroy Evans murdered at rest stops and parks across the US. The body count is unknown.
In 1991, Don Evans was put on trial for capital murder involving a 10-year old girl. He wanted to legally change his name, asking the court to address him as ‘Hi Hitler.’ Evans believed these words — not heil Hitler — went with the Nazi salute.
He was a devout white supremacist, con man, and prolific serial killer.
During the trial, in which Evans acted as his own attorney, he wanted to wear a white KKK robe and a swastika band. Somewhat prior, Hilliard Moldof (his fourth lawyer) requested to be removed from the case, citing threats on his person made by Donald Evans.
Moldof was Jewish, and Evans had — among other threats — promised to stab him with a sharpened pencil.
Murderpedia puts Donald Leroy Evans’s total victims at 15, but the count may be as high as 60. He was able to describe details no one but their killer could have known at crime scenes across the country.
But Donny, as he liked to be called, lied so much that sorting out fact from fiction wouldn’t come easily.
Donny Evans stood out. He was poorly educated but slick. A smooth talker who could adapt to any environment, he exploited the kindness of strangers and acquaintances to his advantage. He preyed on easy targets, particularly anyone working the streets or temporarily living there.
Much like famed killer-confessor Henry Lee Lucas, Evans kept police busy and entertained himself by rattling off dozens of victims and locations. Unlike Lucas, none of his claims has yet to be disproved.
Evans had a long psychiatric history dating back to high school. He dropped out as a freshman, then joined up with a local gang. He managed to survive his teen years, despite a suicide attempt with roach poison, then enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 18.
His family noted that, as one of nine children, Donny grew up with little supervision in a household with a raging alcoholic mother.
During his short stint in the military — less than a year — Donny spent much of his time in the Correctional Custody Platoon (CCP). A spokesman for the Marine Corps interpreted his CCP placement as “Evans was dumped into the CCP because he was a whacked-out jerk.”
Discharged from the Marine Corps in 1976, he began a rootless existence of drifting around the US, sometimes taking low-paying jobs and often attempting to con anyone he came into contact with. He continued to rack up arrests, in Texas and throughout the south.
In 1986, he was convicted of rape in Galveston Texas, and sentenced to 15 years. As was often the case in the 1970s and 80s, the crime of sexual assault — even aggravated or violent sexual assault — was not taken very seriously. After five years in prison, he was released.
At the time, his jailers were not aware that he’d already murdered at least two women.
But the law wouldn’t catch up to him again till 1991. The three murders for which he was finally convicted occurred in 1985 and shortly after his release from the Texas State Penitentiary in 1991.
Forty years ago, a teenager named Randy Sellers went missing in Northern Kentucky.
Randy Sellers’ mother has never stopped searching for him. Photo source: The Charley Project
Don Evans told police he killed Randy and even drew a map of the site where he’d buried the young man’s body, but after they drove him to Kincaid Lake State Park to locate the grave, he suddenly stopped cooperating.
In 2019, a class of criminology students from Towson University explored the site. They speculated that the map Evans drew could have been used incorrectly. By turning it 180 degrees, they discovered the dump site might be behind a multi-purpose building.
The group spent a full day trying to find some physical evidence to locate Randy’s body.
Last seen by the cops
The night he went missing, 17-year old Randy Sellers was picked up by the police for drunkenness. He’d been at the State Fair and gotten into a fight, and officers were driving him home. Randy asked to be let out of their car near some railroad tracks not far from the state park.
Randy’s mom was staying at a friend’s house near the park. To this day, she believes Randy accepted a ride from Evans while hitchhiking, on his way to find the house.
Circumstantial evidence strongly points to the possibility that Sellers was murdered near the lake. In addition to Evans’s confession and his accurate knowledge of the area, police confirmed that Evans was passing through that area of KY at the time Sellers disappeared.
His parents are still hopeful Randy’s remains may someday be located near Kincaid Lake. The Towson students found no trace of him during their June 2019 search.
The first two victims
Ira Jean Smith
The first victim was a woman he’d met in Ft. Lauderdale during his cross-country travels. Ms. Smith, a local sex worker, had gone with Evans to a motel room.
The coroner ruled her death as a drug overdose, but Evans later confessed to strangling her. Ira Jean was 38-years old at the time of her death. She was found in a motel room rented under the name Joseph Kenzie, but what convicted Evans were his fingerprints plastered all over the bathroom. That, and he’d been known to go by the name Joe Kenzie as an alias.
Ira Jean had been wrapped in a blanket and stuffed into a closet.
One of the crimes Evans confessed to was the murder of Janet Movich, 38, whose body was recovered from a wooded lot near Daytona Beach just off US Highway 1. She was sexually assaulted and, like his other victims, strangled.
There are a few bare facts about Janet’s life. She was from Rossiter, Pennsylvania. She was six weeks pregnant when she was killed and had been making money as a sex worker in Daytona Beach. She’d left Rossiter at 16 and survived by staying at shelters as she traveled around the country.
Janet hitchhiked to sunny Florida to visit a friend who she met at a center for the mentally handicapped.
She last was seen just a few hours before her death, running for shelter during a rainstorm and ducking into the lobby of the Daytona Beach Youth Hostel.
Beatrice Louise Routh
On August 1, 1991, Don Evans raped and murdered a homeless 10-year old girl named Beatrice Routh. She and her sister and mom had recently arrived in Gulfport, Mississippi. According to reports from the girl’s mother, Tami Giles first told authorities she let her daughter accompany Evans on a trip to the store to buy food for a barbecue. Later, she admitted she sold Beatrice to Evans for sex. (Giles was arrested and tried as an accessory-after-the-fact).
Beatrice took several short trips to the store with Evans before he took her away for good. The last time, she tried to get another adult to accompany her. Evans made the little girl feel uncomfortable.
Don Evans took Beatrice, duct-taped her mouth, and drove to a rural location in Louisiana. There, he raped and brutalized her for hours before ending her life by strangulation. He eventually returned to Mississippi to dump her body.
At the trial, the medical examiner noted that autopsy evidence showed Beatrice was conscious and aware during the attack, which lasted most of a day. The details of this horrific crime are contained in a transcript from one of Evans’s appeals.
A legacy of death and destruction
Because Evans confessed then recanted, joked during his trial, and was attention seeking when he led authorities to various dump sites, it may never be known how many murders he committed.
He was sentenced to death in 1993. Six years later, on a cold January day at Mississippi State Penitentiary, another inmate stabbed Evans to death with a homemade shank. Both inmates were on the way to the shower under the custody of a guard at the time of the killing.
After Evans died, the Harrison County District Attorney who prosecuted him for Beatrice Routh’s murder said, “We don’t mourn him. We simply close his file.
Most people you’d be able to say something good about them,” he said. “Everything I saw in his life was pure self-involvement and as close to evil as I’ve ever seen.”