“Murder in the Bayou” tells the story of eight women from the small town of Jennings, Louisiana who were killed over four years—but could another woman’s death years earlier be tied to the victims?
In 1998, in the same rural town, another woman was savagely beaten and left for dead—surviving for about a year before eventually succumbing to her injuries.
Sheila Comeaux’s family believes that even though the brutal attack occurred seven years before the first of the victims known as the “Jeff Davis 8” or “Jennings 8” was found dead, that Comeaux’s death is somehow connected to the murders.
“I believe strongly that my mom’s death is connected to the disappearances and deaths of these women. The cases are so related,” Comeaux’s daughter Lakesha Myers said in a 2009 interview with KPLC shown in “Murder in the Bayou.”
Myers said at the time that she believes her mother’s death should be investigated alongside the other victims because of the eerie similarities between the cases.
From 2005 to 2009, the bodies of eight women were found in or around Jennings, left in drainage canals or desolate back roads. All of the women were from the same social circle and were said to have lived a “high-risk lifestyle” including drugs and prostitution.
The victims included Loretta Lewis, Ernestine Daniels Patterson, Kristen Gary Lopez, Whitnei Dubois, Laconia “Muggy” Brown, Crystal Shay Benoit Zeno, Brittney Gary and Necole Guillory.
Myers said her mother had lived the “same lifestyle” as the “Jeff Davis 8.”
Comeaux was found badly beaten in an abandoned building on Valentine’s Day 1998.
“She had been beat, hit with something, beat with something, and from what I am understanding the only thing that kept her alive at the time is because it was so cold that it clotted her blood and it stopped her from bleeding to death,” relative Barb Ann Deshotel said in the Showtime docu-series.
Comeaux was severely injured—but initially survived—and was hospitalized for about a year, according to Ethan Brown, an executive producer on the series who also wrote a book about the murders.
“Comeaux was out by Fondel’s funeral home in Jennings making a drug bust when it went bad somehow,” he said in the documentary.
Comeaux’s family believes she was acting as a police informant at the time—another suspected commonality between her and the “Jeff Davis 8”—and had been wired up to capture the deal for investigators.
But something went drastically wrong.
“First she turned informant and then when she didn’t want to tell or whatever anymore, it’s when this happened,” Deshotel said.
Authorities have not publicly commented about whether Comeaux was in fact working as an informant; however, in a taped interview with a 2008 task force created to investigate the “Jeff Davis 8” murders one witness also described her as an informant.
“The police wired her up to go out and bust these people. And everybody figured Sheila as a Narc,” the unidentified witness said. “Needless to say, she’s dead.”
Although Comeaux initially survived the attack, she was never able to clearly tell what had happened to her.
“Every time she would start talking about what happened, they would call the police to come in so that they could question her about it and every time that the detective that was working her case showed up, she’d stop talking. She wouldn’t say anything else,” Myers would later recall to local media.
Comeaux died March 19, 1999, according to KPLC.
The case was never solved, much like all eight of the “Jeff Davis 8” murders, and the relationship Comeaux had with law enforcement remains unclear.
Brown believes the “Jeff Davis 8” victims had also been working as informants for law enforcement before they died. Many of the victims’ family members report the suspected connection as well.
“Family members and friends told me that the women of the Jeff Davis 8 would provide a steady flow of information to the police,” Brown said. “As informants the women were squeezed between law enforcement and the most dangerous people in South Jennings.”
First victim Loretta Chaisson’s brother Nick Chaisson said his sister told family members she was going to be a witness in a drug deal just weeks before she was killed.
Sarah Benoit, the cousin of victim Crystal Shay Benoit Zeno, believes she had been an informant for the sheriff’s office.
“The informant culture in a small town like Jennings left the women of the Jeff Davis 8 vulnerable,” Brown said. “As drug users, they were vulnerable to arrests, constantly, they were in and out of the jail regularly.”
With the women gone, it’s difficult to know what secrets they may have taken to their grave.
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