In the small town of Jennings, Louisiana, women continue to mysteriously disappear.
Their bodies are later discovered in drainage canals and desolate back roads, terrifying the small town of about 11,000.
Within four years, eight bodies have been found — but no arrests in the case have ever been made.
The women were painted in the media and by law enforcement as women engaged in a “high risks lifestyle” due to their connections with drugs and prostitution. But investigative journalist Ethan Brown wanted to dig deeper into the case to find out more about who these women were — and the shocking connections all the victims appeared to have with one another — first in a book, and now in the new Showtime docu-series, “Murder In The Bayou.”
Brown, who serves as an executive producer in the series along with director Matthew Galkin and producer Josh Levine, sought to bring the humanity of the women and the town to light in the five-part series that is told through a series of emotional and raw interviews from those who knew the women.
“I let the s--t with the girls eat me up daily. They didn’t deserve what hell they got,” resident Jessica Kratzer says in the opening scene of the series. “The girls have pretty much been forgotten in this town. You don’t really ever hear anybody ever speak of them. It’s like they never existed.”
The series carefully weaves the women’s stories against the backdrop of a town split by deep social economic disparities, possible conspiracies, and a troubling relationship between key members of law enforcement and the victims who end up dead.
But just who are the key players in “Murder In The Bayou"? Here is a guide to the most integral people in the series— and the myriad of connections they have with one another.
Loretta Chaisson, 28: Loretta Chaisson was the first of the victims known as the “Jeff Davis 8” or “Jennings 8.” The mother of two’s body was found floating in a canal on May 20, 2005 by a man who was fishing. Although he initially thought the body was a mannequin, it turned out to be the body of the missing 28-year-old.
“The reaction to the discovery of the body was very shocking to the community. It’s not something you find every day,” Commander Ramby Cormier said in the docu-series.
Chaisson’s family said she had struggled with drugs before she went missing — but had been a devoted mother.
“She was always about her kids,” her brother Chad Chaisson said in the series. “She always had a smile on her face and would never hurt nobody.”
Several days before she disappeared, Chaisson’s friend Jessica Kratzer said Chaisson had asked her to walk her to a local bar, but seemed to be spooked by something she saw.
“She looked at the bar, it looked like she noticed something,” Kratzer said. “She looked back at me and she gave me her purse.”
Chaisson asked her friend to put the purse on top of a closet just “in case.” It would be the last time Kratzer ever saw her alive.
Her brother Chad also said in the series that the last time he saw his sister she was getting into a car being driven by Frankie Richard, a well-known pimp in the area with a violent past.
Ernestine Daniels Patterson, 30: Ernestine Daniels Patterson was the second victim to be discovered on June 18, 2005, just six miles from where Chaisson’s body was found.
Like Chaisson, Patterson’s body was discovered in the water, this time by a group of froggers. According to her mother, Evelyn Daniels, Patterson’s throat was slashed, her hand was bruised, and her face was unrecognizable.
It took authorities about two months to positively identify the body due to the level of decomposition.
Since her daughter’s death, Daniels said she’s been frustrated by the lack of progress in the case.
“I feel like they don’t care,” she said in the series. “I don’t have no closure. No peace.”
Two men, Byron Chad Jones and Lawrence Nixon, were arrested on second-degree murder charges connected to her death, but those charges were later dropped.
Kristen Gary Lopez, 21: Kristen Gary Lopez, 21, was the third murder linked to what has become known as the “Jeff Davis 8.” Like the two previous victims, Lopez’s body was found March 18, 2007 in a canal after being left in the water for several days. She had been officially reported missing after last being seen on March 5.
“Everybody that I knew just thought she was on a bender,” her childhood friend Hannah Conner said in the series.
Kratzer, who said her mother had pretty much raised Lopez, said she believed her friend was growing increasingly frightened in the days before she disappeared. She recalled a walk the pair took to Lopez’s grandmother’s shortly before she disappeared. Kratzer remembered her friend turning around and looking at every car as it passed by.
“I never seen her that paranoid before. I said, ‘Kristen, you can talk to me.’ She said, ‘But you’re not going to understand,’” Kratzer said. “The closer it came to her coming up missing, the less she started coming around.”
Her father, Andrew Newman, said Lopez had started smoking crack — sometimes even lighting up with her father —before she disappeared. But after his own arrest, Newman had pleaded with her to stop using drugs.
“She came to visit with my mom and daddy on a Saturday and I can remember telling her before she left the jail that day, ‘Slow down, Kristen. Do daddy a favor, get off of that crack. Quit it,’” he said.
Conner and her uncle Frankie Richard would later be arrested for Lopez’s murder, but the charges were dropped a short time later.
Whitnei Dubois, 26: Unlike the previous victims, Whitnei Dubois’ body was discovered abandoned along a rural road. She was totally nude.
Cormier said in the series that like many of the other victims, she “had some connection” to prostitution and drugs before her death.
“I think I knew Whitnei would have sold her body, I guess, but she was a kid to me,” her cousin Sonya Benoit Beard said in the series. “I don’t want to think of her that way.”
Dubois had been beaten so severely that her face “wasn’t recognizable,” according to Beard.
Dubois’ body was discovered by Jamie Trahan — although there are differing accounts about when and how he came across the body.
Cormier said although investigators had “persons of interest” in the death, no one had been formally named publicly and no arrests were ever made.
Laconia “Muggy” Brown, 23: Laconia “Muggy” Brown — the fifth “Jeff Davis 8” victim — had a chilling premonition about her own fate shortly before she died.
“Laconia knew the other four girls,” her grandmother Bessie Brown said in the series of the previous victims. “She had been paranoid and she got it her mind that she would be the next victim.”
The feeling that “something bad” was going to happen would tragically come to fruition in May 2008. Brown’s body was found partially nude around 3 a.m. by a sheriff’s deputy on patrol in the middle of rural road.
The body had been covered in bleach.
Bessie Brown said her granddaughter had disappeared after telling her around 8:30 p.m. on a Friday night that she was going to a friend’s to have some gumbo and would be home some time before midnight. However, Laconia Brown would never return — leaving behind a young son.
“Laconia, she was a very nice person,” her grandmother said. “Sweet person. And she loved her family and loved her child.”
Before her death, Laconia Brown had fallen in with the wrong crowd and began to smoke crack.
“Many nights, I begged her, I said don’t go out there on them streets tonight, baby,” her step-grandfather said in the docu-series. “Stay home until these people find whoever this is doing this killing, but it never sunk in.”
Crystal Shay Benoit Zeno, 24: 24-year-old mom Crystal Shay Benoit Zeno was the sixth victim who was discovered in a wooded area in the fall of 2008.
According to Cormier, by the time authorities discovered the body there were only skeletal remains and the body had be identified through DNA.
“Crystal was a good person. She always wanted to be a mother. Whenever she finally had [her daughter] you know, she thought her life was complete and the drugs got her again,” her cousin Sarah Benoit said in the docu-series.
According to Benoit, Zeno and the other victims had all known each other.
“They all got high together. They all hung out together,” she said. “They all ran together.”
Just before she died, Zeno had told her cousin she was “slinging dope” for a local dealer in town.
According to her obituary, the young mom had also liked to fish, sing, and listen to music.
“She was a people person and enjoyed spending time with her family and friends,” it read.
Brittney Gary, 17: Gary was the youngest of the “Jennings 8” victims at just 17 years old. She was last seen alive making a purchase at a Family Dollar store around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008.
Her mother, Teresa Gary, said the trip should have only taken her 30 minutes — but as soon as she didn’t return her mother started calling her cell phone. She got no response.
“Brittney always answered my calls. That day, she didn’t and I knew immediately something was wrong,” Teresa Gary said in the docu-series.
Teresa Gary and friends started putting up missing person’s flyers and she pleaded in local media for her daughter’s safe return, but on Nov. 15, 2008, Brittney Gary’s body was discovered hidden just off the road, according to local station KPLC.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen any mother hurting that much,” Rev. Dr. Stacy Poullard, of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, said in the documentary. “I’ve been doing funerals a long time but the pain in that woman’s face, was something I had never witnessed before.”
Gary and earlier victim Kristen Gary Lopez were cousins, according to The Daily Advertiser.
Necole Jean Guillory: The final victim of the “Jeff Davis 8” was Necole Jean Guillory, a Jennings resident whose body was found dumped along the side of Interstate 10 in nearby Acadia Parish on Aug. 19, 2009.
“Necole is a little different than a lot of our other victims, though, in that she felt she could be a potential victim,” said Scott Lewis, former reporter with The Jennings Daily News.
Her mother, Barbara Guillory, echoed those sentiments, saying that shortly before her daughter had disappeared, she had asked her what kind of icing she wanted for her birthday cake.
“She said, ‘Mama,’ she said, ‘It doesn’t matter. I am not going to be here to see my birthday,” Barbara Guillory said in “Murder in the Bayou.”
Necole Guillory was correct: She never made it to her birthday.
According to Barbara Guillory, her daughter had been vocal about her belief that the police were somehow involved with the deaths before she disappeared.
“Necole was a good girl in her own way,” she said. “She’s gotten mixed up with wrong people and the wrong crowd. I don’t know when it went bad.”
Key Law Enforcement Members:
Ricky Edwards: Ricky Edwards was the sheriff of Jefferson Davis Parish from 1992 to 2012 and was in office during all eight murders.
Edwards faced criticism after publicly saying that the victims had been living a “high-risks lifestyle” before they were killed, referencing the women’s ties to drugs and prostitution.
After the seventh death, Edwards announced the formation of the multi-agency Investigative Team task force, made up of local, state, and federal authorities, to try to solve the open cases.
While some in the town believed there might have been a conspiracy by law enforcement to cover up those responsible for the deaths, Edwards repeatedly denied any wrongdoing by the department.
“There’s a lot of people (who) want to say cover up and all of this, I have never nor will I ever, as I don’t believe any sheriff in this state would cover up any wrongdoing in our offices,” Edwards said in a news clip aired on the series. “None of us are above the law, nor do we want to be.”
Warren Gary: Warren Gary was the chief investigator with the sheriff’s office. Gary came under scrutiny after it was discovered that he purchased a white Chevy Silverado truck from Connie Siler — an inmate at the time and known associate of Frankie Richard’s — and then sold the truck for a profit.
According to Brown, multiple sources had suggested the truck had been at the crime scene where Kristen Gary Lopez was killed. After buying the truck for $7,000 or $8,000, Gary allegedly got it washed and then re-sold it for approximately $15,000, Brown said.
Gary was fined $10,000 by the Louisiana Board of Ethics, was cleared of any criminal charges, and was promoted within the department to become head of the evidence room at the sheriff’s office.
Gary was later shot to death by his 17-year-old grandson Parker Gary in 2016. Parker Gary received a 55 year prison sentence for shooting his grandfather in his home and for killing another man, Dedrick Grant, according to the American Press.
Jesse Ewing: Jesse Ewing was a Jennings police officer who conducted several interviews with inmates about the sale of Connie Siler’s truck to lead investigator Warren Gary. In an interview, one inmate told Ewing that Hannah Conner said Gary bought the truck to get rid of evidence connected to Kristen Gary Lopez’s death.
Ewing handed over the information to a private investigator after becoming afraid of giving the information to any local law enforcement investigator, according to KPLC. The private investigator passed the information to the FBI and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office.
Ewing was later arrested for obstruction and malfeasance in office for providing the information to a civilian rather than going through the proper chain of command. Ewing later pled out to a malfeasance in office charge and his career in law enforcement was ended, according to Brown.
Danny Barry: Danny Barry was a jailer at the Jefferson Davis Parish jail, who some have accused of abusing the inmates.
“He treated us bad,” Chad Richard said in the series, adding that Barry would use mace on inmates “for no reason” while they were locked up in jail cells.
Other witnesses reported that Barry and his wife, Natalie Barry, often enlisted girls to come to their home to smoke drugs and have sex.
“He and his wife, Natalie, were seen by numerous witnesses over the span of several years picking up sex workers in their vehicle and taking them back to Danny’s trailer outside of Jennings,” Brown said in “Murder In The Bayou.”
According to Brown, Barry was said to have a “sex dungeon” in the trailer complete with chains and other BDSM supplies.
A witness also allegedly claimed to have seen victim Brittney Gary getting into a vehicle being driven by Barry the last night she was seen alive, he said.
However, in a later interview with investigators, Barry, who has now died, denied ever knowing Gary.
Terrie Guillory: Terrie Guillory was the warden of the parish jail who was known to have deep relationships with residents who lived on the south side of Jennings. Many in the area reported trusting the law enforcement officer and said he was always there to help.
“Terrie knew most, if not all, of the Jeff Davis 8,” Brown said, adding that he was the cousin of final victim Necole Guillory.
However, there were also reports that Terrie Guillory would make “trades” with women in the area, making legal problems go away in exchange for information or other favors. Multiple witnesses in the series also reported that Guillory had a sexual relationship with first victim Loretta Chaisson.
During the investigation into the murders, Guillory’s wife at the time, Paula Guillory, worked as investigator with the sheriff’s office and later served on the task force created to try to solve the murders.
Other Important Players:
Frankie Richard: As Brown describes it, Richard has “been in the Jennings underworld for decades” and was known in the community for working as a pimp and drug dealer.
While he once owned a trucking company and a strip club, Richard himself said his “most memorable way of making a living was selling pussy” but stopped short of calling himself a pimp.
“I did not pimp them girls,” he said in the docu-series. “I introduced them to older men that wanted to spend some money on a young gal. I am making sure they are getting their money, making sure they are not getting hurt.”
Richard was connected with at least seven of the “Jeff Davis 8” victims. He and his niece Hannah Conner were once arrested for the death of Kristen Gary Lopez, but the charges were later dropped. He has always denied having any involvement in any of the murders.
“I did not have anything to do with any of them girls’ death,” he said. “These girls lost their lives because they seen something, heard something, knew something that they were not supposed to know.”
Hannah Conner: Hannah Conner was childhood friends with Kristen Gary Lopez.
“We were close as kids. Our parents were real good friends,” she said in the series. “We kind of grew apart as we grew older.”
Conner was later arrested for Lopez’s murder — along with her uncle and godfather Frankie Richard — however, the charges were later dropped.
Byron Chad Jones and Lawrence Nixon: Bryon Chad Jones and Lawrence Nixon were both arrested in connection with the murder of Ernestine Daniels Patterson; however, authorities later dropped the charges against both men.
Witnesses had reported that Patterson had been engaged in sex work the night she was killed and met up with the two men at an abandoned property — where witnesses believed she may have been killed. Nixon’s wife at the time also reportedly told police that she remembers both men coming to her house that day and that she saw Nixon carrying a garbage bag that had blood coming out of it.
Authorities later determined they did not have enough evidence to prosecute the men.
“The DA’s office obviously has the charging responsibility and they determine who to prosecute and when to prosecute. In that particular case, the DA’s office decided not to prosecute,” Cormier said.
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