The cameras and bright lights of Hollywood might have dimmed on the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into the two-decade-old murder of an LSU graduate student, but that doesn’t mean the detectives in the sheriff’s Criminal Division have stopped working the case.
The only thing that has changed now is that what they’re doing won’t be seen by millions of fans across the nation each week on the Discovery Channel’s true-crime series “Killing Fields.”
“We’re still exploring all avenues,” Maj. Ronnie Hebert said. “This is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. We’ll go until we can’t go anymore.”
“Killing Fields” officially wrapped its first season with a special bonus episode on Tuesday that gave viewers additional insight into Iberville detectives’ investigation of the murder of Eugenie Boisfontaine.
Boisfontaine, who was a 34-year-old divorcée at the time she was killed, was believed to have been kidnapped near the LSU lakes in Baton Rouge in June 1997. She lived on nearby Stanford Avenue.
Her decomposed body was found two months later in Bayou Manchac in Iberville Parish. She had a skull fracture.
Viewers hoping for a resolution to the case likely were disappointed. The show ended its first season with more questions than detectives had when they reopened the case in August for filming. No arrests were made.
But Hebert said they are combing through Boisfontaine’s financial records and following up on countless leads that have been pouring in since the show premiered.
“Police work cannot be solved in a six-hour series,” Detective Aubrey St. Angelo said. “Some of these leads could have validity to them, but it’s tough working all our other cases and chasing all the leads on this down, too.”
In the meantime, Detective Leslie Bradford said she hopes they’ll be able to provide the remaining members of Boisfontaine’s family the closure they spent 20 years waiting for.
“They were a little apprehensive at first when we reopened, but they appreciate we’re looking at it again,” Bradford said. “They had just lost another sister at the time we reopened the case.”
As seen by viewers, the investigation was filled with a few dead ends and unexpected twists and turns.
Described as an introvert at the start of the case, detectives learned from several key people in Boisfontaine’s life that she might have been dating a man by the name of “Robert” — a lead that was sparked from DNA testing on fragments of the underwear Boisfontaine was wearing when her body was discovered.
The testing had picked up multiple DNA strains from at least three different men. During the show, investigators speculated that Boisfontaine could have been sexually assaulted by multiple people.
As for “Robert,” the detectives’ exhaustive search ended with them learning that the man they believe they were seeking died several years ago from cancer.
Much of the investigation filmed for the show’s final few episodes was spent tracking down Boisfontaine’s ex-husband. He refused to speak to detectives directly.
And when they were able to get him to sit down with them, he showed up to the Sheriff’s Office with a team of New Orleans-based attorneys, refusing to make any statement to authorities by invoking his Fifth Amendment rights. His lawyers refused to comment on the matter when The Advocate reached out to them last week.
Boisfontaine’s ex-husband, whose name or face was never shown on the series, declined to provide police with a DNA sample and claimed he didn’t know his ex-wife had been killed until detectives called him in 2015.
However, one of the show’s main stars, retired Detective Rodie Sanchez, said he had spoken with Boisfontaine’s ex-husband in 1997 specifically about his ex-wife’s death.
“Not one single person we talked to during this investigation refused to give us a DNA sample but him,” St. Angelo said.
In the show’s final episode, viewers saw the band of detectives follow Boisfontaine’s ex-husband around New Orleans and covertly take a sample off the door handle of his truck, which they later tested for DNA.
The testing results revealed that her ex-husband’s DNA could not be included or excluded from the samples lifted off Boisfontaine’s tattered undergarments.
Hebert is quick to point out that Boisfontaine’s ex-husband is not a suspect.
“Until they tell me we have explored every avenue out there and there is no other place we can look, the case will remain active,” he said.
The Discovery Channel has announced that it ordered six more episodes of “Killing Fields.” But officials said they haven’t determined yet if the new episodes will be a continuation of Boisfontaine’s case or if they will feature a new case with another law enforcement agency.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.