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Murder raises old fears

Some in Jennings question force of investigation
May 20, 2010
The Daily Advertiser

It is a nightmare the sisters of LaConia "Muggy" Brown had hoped no one else would have to experience — the murder of a loved one.

In early 2008, 23-year-old Brown was the fifth Jennings woman to die among mysterious circumstances. Since Brown's death, three other women have gone missing and been found days later, missing clothes and mostly dumped in public but rural areas of Jefferson Davis Parish.

The most recent victim, 26-year-old Necole Jean Guillory, was found Wednesday in a grassy area near Egan off of Interstate 10 in Acadia Parish. Her death has been ruled as a murder by probable asphyxia, Acadia Parish Coroner Mark Dawson said.

The mysterious deaths of eight Jennings women in four years has left a community on edge, desperate for answers.

"I feel terrible," Kindra Brown said. "I don't think (the police) are doing their job. It's been a year and three months since my sister's been gone. We don't even know if they're coming up with evidence."

After 17-year-old Brittney Gary's body was found in November — the seventh murder — the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff's Office assembled a multi-agency investigative task force that includes the Acadia, Calcasieu and Jeff Davis parishes sheriff's offices, Jennings Police Department, the 15th and 31st Judicial District Attorneys' offices, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Attorney Gen-eral's Office and the FBI.

The task force has pursued leads and tips offered by the public, but is still without a suspect.

When the task force was formed, Jeff Davis Sheriff Ricky Edwards promised that they would create a reward fund for tips that lead to arrests and launch a Web site about the crimes.

The Web site has still not been launched. Edwards did not return phone calls and e-mails requesting comment Friday.

In January, the sheriff's office announced that a $35,000 reward was set up for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of a murderer.

The amount would be prorated per murder.

But Gail Brown, another one of Muggy's sisters, says that reward is too little too late.

"They have to offer a lot more for people to talk," she said. "They're scared."

The small, poor parish of Jefferson Davis Parish has a lot to be proud of. Its high school ACT exam was one of the few in the state to improve this year.

It has one of the lowest dropout rates in the state and is ranked the fifth best school system in the state by the state Department of Educa-tion.

The murdered women are the minority in town, a mix of black and white women who fell through the cracks, dropped out of high school and hung out on the southside of Jennings, where most of the crime in Jeff Davis Parish occurs.

Gail Brown said she has noticed an increase in police on the south side, where she lives, but believes they are targeting the wrong people.

"They're arresting all the drug dealers on Main Street, but they're not looking for who killed my sister," she said.

All the dead women were known to live high-risk lifestyles that included drug use and sometimes selling sex for drugs.

Guillory had been arrested several times and served time for possession of crack cocaine.

Despite the women's high risk lifestyles, friends and families say that should not diminish the urgency of the investigation. Guillory had four children and Muggy Brown had one.

"I know how they're feeling," Kindra Brown said of Guillory's family. "We're sorry that another girl was murdered. I feel the same way that her family feels, and we're hurt too."

Timeline in case

  • May 17, 2005: Loretta Lynn Chaisson, 28, is last seen. Her body is found in the Grand Marais drainage canal three miles west of La. 26, just off La. 1126 three days later. No official cause of death is ever determined, but high levels of alcohol and drugs were found in her body.
  • June 18, 2005: The body of Ernesteine Marie Daniel Patterson, 29, is found in a canal off La. 102, just six miles away from the location of Chaisson's body. Her death is later ruled as a homicide by a slit throat.
  • March 8, 2007: Kristen Elizabeth Gary Lopez, 21, goes missing. Ten days later her body is found in the Petitjean Canal, 10 miles south of Welsh. No official cause of death is ever determined, but high levels of alcohol and drugs were found in her body.
  • May 12, 1007: The body Whitnei Charlene Dubois, 26, is found just south of Jennings in the same vicinity as the other victims, but on a rural road instead of a canal. The cause of her death was never determined, but high levels of alcohol and drugs were found in her body.
  • May 28, 2008: LaConia Shontel "Muggy" Brown, 23, is last seen by her grandmother, hours before her body was found in the middle of East Racca Road near a police shooting range on the edge of Jennings' city limits. Her death is ruled as a homicide, but how she was murdered has not been made public.
  • Sept. 11, 2008: The body of Crystal Shay Benoit Zeno, 24, is found, in a dry canal a couple miles southeast of Jennings but because of the advanced state of decomposition, it took nearly two months to identify her. Her death is ruled as a homicide, but how she was murdered has not been made public.
  • Nov. 2, 2008: Brittney Gary, 17, disappears after walking to a nearby Family Dollar Store to purchase minutes for her cell phone. Gary is known to have done drugs and knows all the victims, including her cousin Lopez and best friend Brown.n
  • Nov. 15, 2008: A family search party finds Brittney Gary's body in the grass off Keystone Road, a half-mile south of La. 1126 and about four miles south of Roanoke.
  • Wednesday: Necole Jean Guillory, 26, is reported missing in the morning and that afternoon her body is found I-10 between Crowley and Jennings. Her death is ruled as a murder.
  • Friday: Acadia Parish Coroners Office says Guillory died of asphyxia.

An eighth mystery

Body found in Acadia ID'd as Jennings woman

May 17, 2010
The Daily Advertiser

JEFF DAVIS PARISH — The discovery of a murdered Jefferson Davis Parish woman's body discarded along Interstate 10 has left residents here experiencing some all too familiar feelings.

"It's scary," Lake Arthur resident Marion Bouler said. "I don't even like going to Jennings any more."

The body was found Wednesday near Egan between Crowley and Jennings and Jeff Davis Sheriff Ricky Edwards has identified the body as 26-year-old Necole Guillory. Bouler attended elementary school with Guillory and lives next door to where Guillory's family once lived.

Hers is the eighth in a string of mysterious deaths of young Jennings women since 2005.

The Multi-Agency Investigative Task Force made up of nine agencies, including the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff's Offices and the FBI are investigating what they call the "series of homicides of women who resided within Jennings."

Law officers are asking for public vigilance and requesting information about the murders.

"The offender is someone with significant ties to the Jennings and Jefferson Davis Parish area. He has demonstrated a strong familiarity with the area, and is someone known to residents there," Edwards said in the release. "The offender may have been seen in the area of Jennings where these young ladies disappeared from. He may have been, and perhaps is still frequenting the area."

Anyone with information about the murders can contact the Task Force at 824-6662.

Despite the outreach to the community, some say it is not enough.

Gail Brown, 22, is frustrated that police have not found a suspect in the murders. Her sister LaConia Shontel "Muggy" Brown's body was found doused in bleach in 2005 on a gravel road on the edge of Jennings' city limits.

"It just hurts," she said. "This is the eighth girl and they never found who killed Muggy."

The puzzling deaths began in May 2005 when fisherman discovered the body of 28-year-old Loretta Lynn Chaisson floating in the Grand Marais drainage canal a couple miles southwest of Jennings. After that, Ernestine Marie Daniel Patterson, 29; Kristen Elizabeth Gary Lopez, 21; Whitnei Charlene Dubois, 26; Brown, 23; Chrystal Shay Benoit, 24; and Brittney Gary, 17, were all found dead in rural areas of Jeff Davis Parish.

Gary's body was discovered on Nov. 15, 2008, nearly two weeks after she went missing.

"In reaction to heightened public awareness and intensive law enforcement investigation, the offender has changed his method of operation. For instance, the most recent victim's body was discarded off to the side of Interstate 10 in Acadia Parish," Sheriff Edwards said in a release. "Previous victims' bodies were discarded off to the side of smaller, rural roads."

Although all the dead women used drugs -- most commonly crack cocaine -- and sometimes traded sex for drugs, spent time in jail, knew each other and were disposed of in similar ways, authorities hesitate to say a serial killer is responsible for their deaths.

Guillory's childhood friend Bouler knew most of the victims and said Guillory likely knew all the women. She also lived a similar lifestyle.

Guillory was arrested and convicted of possession of crack cocaine in 2007 and served 20 months in prison for the crime, according to court documents.

She was released earlier this year and at the time of her death, she had a warrant for her arrest. She had violated probation by not keeping in contact with her probation officer.

She had a long list of arrests dating to 2001, including theft, burglary, aggravated assault, aggravated assault of a police officer, resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia and simple criminal damage. Most of the cases were dismissed.

Although Guillory is last known to have lived in Jennings, she grew up in Lake Arthur and only attended school through seventh grade, according to court documents.

Guillory would have been 27 next week. Her last known address was in the Acadian Apartments in Jennings.

Darlene Daigle, a 14-year resident of the apartments, lived near Guillory's apartment. Daigle often sat outside and talked to Guillory, calling her "very outgoing."

Childhood friend Bouler agrees with Daigle.

"She was a very nice girl," she said. "I know these girls did drugs. I know. ... They do not deserve to be killed and something should have been done about this. Eight girls and nobody knows nothing."

Anyone with information about the murder of Necole Jean Guillory or the other seven women can call the investigation task force at 824-6662.