Sheriff’s deputies busy to start 2013

Published 8:22 am Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The new year started off with a bang for Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives who quickly cleared a double murder and an attempted murder and haven’t slowed down since.

This week, little more than a month into 2013, the WPSO offered an update.

The death of Wisconsin native Tiffany Clute in the Bogue Chitto River remains under investigation, said Sheriff Randy Seal. Although an autopsy did determine Clute died from drowning, the matter remains open pending the processing of additional evidence, he said.

“All deaths in this parish are fully investigated to answer any and all questions related to the tragedy,” Seal said. “If any foul play is detected, my investigators will follow all leads and gather evidence to solve the crime.”

That task was accomplished in a number of cases.

A scrap-metal bandit, who allegedly admitted that he had made away with more than $10,000 worth of materials from a local business, was identified by investigators as David Capdeville and arrested in January.

“This arrest might not seem like a big deal to most, but men like Capdeville need to be stopped,” Seal said. “He is just one example of criminals bent on stealing and stripping anything not tied down from residents’ homes and businesses just to pawn it off to a junk dealer for $20.”

The lead investigator for the case, Detective Damon Mitchell, was assisted with physical surveillance by Sgt. Terry Harris and the Washington Parish Drug Task Force.

In another case, detectives Glenn McClendon and Mitchell solved two burglaries by locating some of the stolen goods and following the trail left by five burglars to recover more than $2,000 worth of tools and electronics.

“Their good old-fashioned police work paid off,” said Capt. Tommie Sorrell. “They were able to return the stolen merchandise to the rightful owners and arrest Russell Blackwell, David Keaton, Christopher Tynes and Robert Johnson for their roles in the burglaries.

Another suspect is still at large. I am confident he will soon be apprehended on the active warrant for his arrest.”

The WPSO also has active warrants for Lance Woodward after what started as an investigation into a forgery case involving a school bus transaction.

Detective Roy Stevens was in charge of the investigation, during which officers “stumbled across several other school bus matters involving Woodward, resulting in additional warrants for forgery and forgery of vehicle insurance being obtained for his arrest,” Sorrell said.

She warns anyone who considers entering into a contract with Woodward, especially one involving a big yellow school bus, to ensure the validity of the arrangement. Since he is now wanted by the sheriff’s office, anyone with information of Woodward’s whereabouts is urged to report it to 839-3434.

Sorrell said two new members of the WPSO team also hit the ground running this year.

The parish’s new juvenile detective, Sgt. Terry Harris, is investigating numerous new cases of crimes involving juveniles, including aggravated rape, sexual battery, indecent behavior and cruelty complaints, and arrests are anticipated in many of these cases, she said.

Harris works in collaboration with various agencies, including the Department of Children and Family Services, the Children’s Advocacy Center, Washington Parish Rape Crisis and Children’s Hospital.

Another new addition to the Criminal Investigation Division is victim advocate Shelia DeDon, who works directly with investigators and is a liaison between law enforcement officials and crime victims.

“Shelia helps victims of crime, including domestic violence, by directing them to available services,” said Sorrell. “She has been instrumental in helping many people obtain protective orders, updating them on their case status, and arranging counseling services.”

Seal is pleased with the high activity.

“I have seen our detectives recently investigate and solve cases from stolen goats to murders,” he said. “I am proud of the men and women I have assembled to serve the citizens of this fine parish.”

Seal added that Sorrell “has the task of ensuring all crimes are properly investigated, and the victims are contacted and kept up to speed with the investigations.”

She can be reached at 985-661-2024.