GREGG COUNTY, Texas — A Longview man has pleaded guilty to the murders of his roommate and a woman who went unidentified for 13 years.
According to Gregg County judicial records, Joseph Wayne Burnette, 43, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in the 188th District Court to the murders of Felisha Pearson and Dana Lynn Dodd (previously known as "Lavender Doe"). He was sentenced to 50 years in prison for each murder. The sentences will run concurrently and he will become eligible for parole after serving 25 years.
Pearson, 28, was originally reported missing on July 19, 2018. Authorities found her body five days later in Longview.
The following month, Burnette was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender, relating to a previous charge. During the investigation into Pearson's murder, police learned Burnette had been with Pearson around the time of her disappearance.
"Detectives and officers with both [the Longview Police Department and Gregg County Sheriff's Office] have continued to gather evidence to put all the pieces together in order to present a case to the Gregg CO. district attorney's office," Longview Police Chief Mike Bishop said. "On August 21st, Joseph Burnette gave a full confession which corroborated the investigations facts into the death of Felisha Pearson. The information we had in relation to this case was then presents to a Gregg County grand jury on August 23 of 2018."
During his confession, Burnette also confessed to the murder of a woman in 2006, who remained unidentified until Feb. 2019. Investigators had previously called her by the alias "Lavender Doe" until her identity was confirmed to be Dodd thanks to the DNA Project.
Dodd's body was found in October 2006 north of Kilgore in a heavily wooded area. Her body was "charred," according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Dodd, who was from Jacksonville, Florida, was 21-years-old at the time of her death.