Two men have been arrested in Louisiana in connection to the abduction and murder of a young mother who police say was snatched from her home in the middle of the night and then fatally shot while trying to escape.
Corrie Wallace, a 37-year-old LaPlace resident, turned himself in to the authorities on Monday and was charged with first-degree murder in connection to the shooting death of 25-year-old Ja’Riel Sam, according to a release issued this week by the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's Office. Shortly afterward, a second suspect, 36-year-old Kevin Hollinger, was arrested and charged with principal to first-degree murder, according to another release.
Wallace was in Sam’s apartment in the early morning hours of Saturday, at which point he allegedly assaulted her and then forced her to leave the apartment and get into the trunk of her own car, authorities said. However, once Wallace was driving, Sam managed to escape the vehicle and Wallace crashed the car, according to authorities; Sam ran from the car on foot, but Wallace allegedly chased her to a nearby vacant lot and fatally shot her in the head before fleeing the scene.
Officers with the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's Office responded to the scene at around 3:30 a.m. after receiving a call reporting a hit-and-run, authorities said. Upon their arrival, they found that a vehicle had crashed into a guardrail — the car that they say Wallace was driving — and Sam was found, nude and deceased, in an empty lot, the statement confirmed. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities do not believe that a hit-and-run occurred, but that Wallace crashed the car into a guardrail after Sam’s escape, the release states. Wallace was identified as a suspect after investigators reviewed surveillance footage taken in the area. Divers later were able to recover what investigators believe was the murder weapon from a canal on Belle Terre Boulevard, the street where the crash took place.
Authorities pointed to Hollinger as a second suspect after detectives, during the course of the investigation, saw that a second vehicle was following behind Sam’s car as it was being driven from her apartment, the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's Office said Tuesday. They allege that Hollinger was behind the wheel of the second car, and knew what Wallace, who authorities said had a container of gasoline in the front seat with him, had planned for Sam.
Wallace turned himself in to the authorities after the sheriff’s office announced that he was being sought for murder. Both Wallace and Hollinger are currently in custody, online jail records show.
Authorities have said that Wallace and Sam were acquaintances, while Wallace and Hollinger were co-workers, according to Nola.com.
Sam leaves behind a 4-year-old son, who authorities say was present when his mother was abducted and was left alone in the house, according to a previous Nola.com report.
“He heard his mama screaming,” Sheriff Mike Tregre told the outlet.
Following the positive identification of Sam’s body, authorities traveled to her home, where they reportedly found the child in his mother’s bed. He wasn't harmed, but someone had doused the house in bleach in what Tregre described as an attempt to destroy any evidence, according to Nola.com. The child has since been taken in by relatives.
The investigation into Sam’s murder is ongoing, according to the sheriff’s office. Anyone with information on the case is encouraged to call the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office TIPS line at 985-359-TIPS, the SJSO dispatch line at 985-652-6338, or the Criminal Investigations Division at 504-359-8769.
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