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In Houma, Louisiana, the Drama Club was known as an LGBTQ-friendly establishment frequented by locals and others passing through the bayou area.
On Christmas Eve 2009, bar manager Robert LeCompte, 39, a well-liked figure in the community, prepared to close up following a staff party that coincided with his birthday.
He called Randy Chestnut, his boss and roommate, to let him know that it had been a busy night — they’d made about $4,000. LeCompte said that he’d be home in half an hour.
But LeCompte never arrived. Chestnut called the police department about 3:30 in the morning on Christmas Day, investigators told “Murdered By Morning,” airing Saturdays at 8/7c on Oxygen.
The Terrebonne County Sheriff’s Office dispatched a patrol unit. Inside the bar, they found LeCompte lying in a pool of blood, dead.
LeCompte had been stabbed multiple times around his neck. Star-shaped wounds suggested the weapon had been a Phillips head screwdriver, and the victim’s lack of defensive wounds indicated he’d been likely taken by surprise.
Though the stabbing suggested a personal crime of passion, empty bank bags on the floor also raised the possibility of a robbery.
Two hours into the investigation a shocking discovery of a note scrawled on a napkin was made, reported Vanity Fair. It was found when LeCompte’s body was moved. The message on the blood-soaked paper read: “You gave me AIDS.”
Was the motive for murder revenge?
LeCompte’s HIV-positive status was known around the community, sources told “Murdered By Morning.”
Investigators looked into LeCompte’s dating life, including former boyfriends, for possible leads, as well as patrons at the bar the night that LeCompte was killed. Could someone in the close-knit LGBTQ community have been the perpetrator?
A man he had recently been involved with had a solid alibi, and all of the patrons’ alibis were checked and confirmed as well. But one witness said that he had noticed that a former employee — an unidentified Black man — had gone to the restroom as everyone else left the bar, according to “Murdered By Morning.”
Investigators re-interviewed Chestnut for information about the unidentified man the witness had mentioned.
“The only two former Black employees were brothers,” said Det. Rod Demery, a retired homicide detective. Dante Young had performed at the club. Jorell Young was a barback.
Dante was incarcerated at the time of the murder, which ruled him out as a suspect.
Investigators tracked down Jorell, who said he was at Drama Club on Christmas Eve and that he had gone into the restroom before leaving the bar. He stopped at a minimart to get gas afterward. Security video from the store confirmed that Jorell was there — but it was about 20 minutes later than the time he said he’d arrived there.
Investigators took note of the discrepancy but didn’t have enough to hold Jorell as a suspect. The case hit a pause, and over the next few months went cold.
But on April 1, 2010, a game-changing call came in. The caller, Darkus Baker, said that she had information about LeCompte’s murder and the robbery. Her boyfriend, Jorell Young, had told her that he committed the crime, she claimed.
According to Baker, Jorell came home on Christmas around 7 a.m. with cash and, according to Vanity Fair journalist Adam Teicholz, told Baker, “I had to kill somebody. I did it for us.”
Baker shared a daughter with Jorell and was afraid to come forward sooner, authorities said.
Baker revealed that he told her he used a screwdriver as a weapon and tossed it somewhere along Rt. 24 on his way home. The tool was never recovered.
She also said that he had a bag filled with around $3,000 and another sack filled with bloody clothes that he told her to get rid of. She hid it and kept it instead and eventually handed it over to police. DNA on the clothes matched Jorell as well as LeCompte. The details of the crime, which weren’t public knowledge, bolstered investigators’ belief in her statements.
“Robbery was the motive all along,” said Mark Rhodes, now retired as 1st Asst. District Attorney for Terrebonne Parish.
Jorell Young was arrested for murder and robbery. When authorities asked him why someone would murder LeCompte he said that maybe he gave someone AIDS. Authorities took as a sign that he had manufactured the note found under the body to cover his tracks.
On November 13, 2012, Jorell Young, then 26, was convicted of first-degree murder, reported wdsu.com. He was sentenced to life without parole.
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