Second suspect charged in triple murder

Published 12:09 am Thursday, August 23, 2012

Larto, La. — A second person has been charged with murder in the Monday death of three area residents.

Debbie Adams, a relative of one of the victims, joins Lee John Ponthieux Jr., 41, as a prime suspect in the case.

Ponthieux, of Mansura, La., was charged with three counts of first-degree murder Tuesday after he led local, state and federal agencies on a 24-hour manhunt.

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Authorities originally believed Ponthieux shot and killed three friends with a shotgun when a fight turned deadly at a Moody Road house in Larto, La.

Catahoula Parish Sheriff James Kelly said Ponthieux was more cooperative during interviews Wednesday and confessed to killing all three people, but not the way he originally told deputies.

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.

Debbie Adams, Edris Ellard’s sister, called police shortly before 3 a.m. Monday after reportedly leaving the residence during the fight and then hearing gunshots.

Debbie Adams was originally booked on an obstruction of justice charge, but those charges were upgraded Wednesday to first-degree murder, Kelly said.

“We know now that she was more directly involved in seeing that the crime was carried out than we originally thought,” Kelly said. “Based on what we’re hearing from interviews, Debbie (Adams) was telling Ponthieux, ‘I wouldn’t shed a tear if someone were to kill my momma.’

“(Ponthieux) said he wouldn’t have killed (Annie Bell Adams) if Debbie (Adams) hadn’t wanted him to.”

Ponthieux and Debbie Adams were inside the Moody Road house, when Ponthieux went into the bedroom of Annie Bell Adams and stabbed her to death, Kelly said.

“At that point, Debbie (Adams) claimed that she thought (Ponthieux) was going to stab her and that’s why she ran,” Kelly said. “Debbie (Adams) told us that she heard two gunshots as she was running down the road.”

Ponthieux then walked outside to a shack, where John Ellard and Edris Ellard were staying, Kelly said.

After a brief scuffle between Ponthieux and John Ellard, Kelly said Ponthieux shot John Ellard point blank with a shotgun.

Edris Ellard managed to dodge a second shot from the shotgun as she grabbed the barrel of the gun, Kelly said Ponthieux had reported.

“After he fired the shot, (Ponthieux) took out his hunting knife and stabbed (Edris Ellard),” Kelly said. “He threw the kitchen knife he used to stab (Annie Bell Adams) in the river, but when we picked him up he did have the hunting knife on him with blood on it.”

Ponthieux left the scene of the crime on his black Honda motorcycle, which was later found wrecked on Louisiana 124.

Ponthieux evaded authorities all day Monday, prompting state and local SWAT teams to enter an abandoned house, a residence and sheds in Larto.

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.”

Kelly said Ponthieux has previously been arrested in Catahoula Parish in 2011 for a charge of driving while intoxicated and also had a list of other charges, including battery of a juvenile, theft and illegal use of weapons, from various parishes dating back to 1988.

No bond had been set for either Ponthieux or Debbie Adams as of Wednesday evening.