~ A Serial Killer in Jennings, LA – Part 7 ~

 

Guest:  Murphy Lewis (spouse of 1st victim Loretta Chaisson Lewis)
Host:  Joey Ortega
Airdate:  Fri, Jul 22, 2011

Recap of the show:

For the first time, after six years of silence, Murphy Lewis, the husband of Loretta Chaisson Lewis made a decision to speak publicly about his wife and her death.  Loretta, who is believed to be the first victim in a series of 8 unsolved deaths/murders in Jeff Davis Parish, was found May 20, 2005 floating in the east fork of the Grand Marais Canal a few miles southwest of Jennings.

Murphy was at work when he first learned that his wife might be deceased.  His mother had begun to hear rumors that a female body had been found and that it might be Loretta.  His mother picked him up from work and they began to check into the rumor but they would have no answers until four days later when law enforcement finally advised the family they had gotten a positive identification that the body was indeed Loretta’s.

Murphy and Loretta had met through a mutual friend and Loretta….just like Murphy, liked to joke, laugh and cut up.  As time passed, they began to hang out together more and more but were not “dating” as both of them were involved with other people at the time.  When those relationships with others came to an end, Murphy & Loretta did become a “couple” and were eventually married in March 2000.  He says towards the end of the show….one thing people may not realize or know about their relationship was that there was nothing Loretta wouldn’t tell him….he feels certain he knew her better than anyone.

Murphy & Loretta eventually had two children together.  The children were quite young at the time of Loretta’s death and did not, at the time, understand what had happened to their mother.  Those children are a bit older now and, although they understand somewhat about their mother’s death…..still have many unanswered questions as does their father.

Joey asked Murphy about the private investigator, Kirk Mendard, who was hired by other victim family members.  Murphy stated he was familiar with Menard and had actually spoken with him a couple of times.  Lewis also mentioned that he has had contact with family members from a couple of the other victims but did not say which ones.  When asked about his thoughts about how the murder investigations overall have been handled…..Lewis, although somewhat hesitant, said he questioned why certain people/leads had not been pursued more in depth at least in regards to his wife’s death.

The subject of “fear” about discussing the cases was brought up next by Ortega and he asked Murphy if he understood what that “fear” was about and if Lewis could help him understand it.  Lewis kind of chuckled in a “knowing” way and finally said that yes, he understood.  He alluded that although it wasn’t in “black & white”, and “no one” came right out and said “keep your mouth shut” that it was “understood” LE didn’t want the families discussing the cases.  There seemed to be some inference that people in “influential positions” didn’t want the cases discussed and that there could be repercussions if they were.  Lewis didn’t say that in those exact words but that was the “drift” I got.  Joey seemed to agree and said the “sense” he got was that people didn’t “want to upset law enforcement”.

The discussion then moved toward the already in progress race for the soon to be vacated Sheriff’s seat and how the election could be pivotal in bringing a new administration in to power in the parish.  The current Sheriff has been in office almost 24 years and his long-time, right-hand man, Larry Dupuis, has thrown his hat into the election arena.  Joey shared that he has spoken to candidate Dupuis but added that Dupuis only had “very general answers” to “very specific questions”.  In Ortega’s opinion….NOW would be the time for candidates to acknowledge the problems/situation in the parish (specifically the unsolved murders) and offer an explanation as to what they intend to do to solve them and address the communication (or lack of) issues with the victim’s family members.  Ortega also mentions he’s heard from some family members that they have been DISCOURAGED from going to law enforcement asking for updates and stated that he is continuing to look into that.

Joey has made several attempts to contact Sheriff Edwards in an effort of fairness but his calls have not been returned and feels he may have been given the “run around”.  He does not feel it is fair to JDP citizens for Edwards to continue to be silent about these cases and to just “retire” from his position and move on to “bigger & better” things without having any accountability to the community and the victim’s families.  The other concern is the very real looming possibility that Edward’s long time, right hand man, Larry Dupuis, may very well be elected to take up where Edwards left off and offer nothing but a continuation of the same attitude toward the murders as well as the same familiar “lack of communication”.

Ortega brought up some good points and one was that whoever takes over the Sheriff position should be willing to be more transparent about the unsolved deaths and aware they will come under scrutiny when being questioned about them.  He also brought up a point made by candidate Jesse Ewing when he was on the show and that is that “a leader needs to be willing to admit when they need help”.  That led into mentioning about when Americas Most Wanted came calling OFFERING to get the news of the unsolved murders out on national T.V……and the Sheriff turning them down!!!!!  It was not stated on the show so I will add in “fairness” that the Sheriff did eventually re-think the offer (after some friendly public persuasion) and did speak with AMW.

Although starting to run short time wise…..Ortega mentioned that he was somewhat befuddled by the “veil of secrecy” that seems to surround “The Task Force”.  No one seems to be able to “confirm” that it still exists, nor who & and how many people are on it.  He continues to “inquire” about “The Task Force” but “no one” seems to be willing to answer the question like it’s some kind of TOP SECRET information!!!!

In closing….Murphy did make an appeal to other victim family members.  He asked that those who have been hesitant to come forward publicly to reconsider their stance.  He also stated that he himself was willing to speak out publicly again in the future and that it’s TIME to start getting “some answers”!!!!!

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