Murder suspect charged with three counts of first degree murderPublished 11:00pm Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Larto, La. — An Avoyelles Parish native suspected of killing three people in Catahoula Parish Monday morning was charged with three counts of first-degree murder after a 24-hour manhunt led deputies back to the scene of the crime.
Lee John Ponthieux Jr., 41, of Mansura, La., evaded authorities all day Monday, prompting state and local SWAT teams to enter an abandoned house, a residence and sheds in the small lake community of Larto, La., in pursuit.
Catahoula Parish Sheriff James Kelly said authorities believe Ponthieux shot and killed three friends with a shotgun when a fight turned deadly.
The shootings reportedly happened on Moody Road in Larto sometime before 3 a.m. Monday.
Kelly said the sheriff’s office received a call at midnight Monday from a Larto resident saying he had spotted Ponthieux near the scene of the crime.
“We had four deputies stationed around the scene of the crime, and my deputies entered into a wooded area and found (Ponthieux) there less than a mile from the house,” Kelly said. “He was armed with the shotgun we think was used in the crime, but he didn’t resist any further after my deputies spotted him.”
At approximately 1 a.m., Ponthieux was transported and booked into the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office for three counts of first-degree murder. No bond was set for Ponthieux as of Tuesday night.
Investigators were still conducting interviews with potential witnesses as of Tuesday evening and Kelly said the investigation was ongoing.
The victims are Edris A. Ellard, 51, of Jonesville; John Ellard Jr., 45, of Monterey, and Annie Bell Adams, 73, of Jonesville.
Kelly said Adams is the mother of Edris Ellard. John Ellard is Edris Ellard’s ex-husband.
The murders happened at Adams’ residence.
Kelly said Edris Ellard’s sister Debbie Adams called police shortly before 3 a.m. after leaving the residence during the fight and then hearing gunshots.
Debbie Adams, Kelly said, was booked on an obstruction of justice charge. Kelly declined to give specifics on the charge.
Kelly said Ponthieux has previously been arrested in Catahoula Parish, but Kelly could not recall the exact charges.
“He has a fairly extensive criminal record,” Kelly said.
The Louisiana State Police, U.S. Marshals, Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Louisiana Probation and Parole Office and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries all assisted with apprehending Ponthieux.