Joyce Bass found her brother-in-law dead in a puddle of blood near his Highway 63 driveway on July 8. She worried officials were never going to find the person who killed Thomas Bass, the man she's lived next door to for the last 40 years, the man who had taken care of her after her husband died last year.

"We're so relieved," Joyce Bass, 68, said. "(I've) been living like a hostage."

For the last three months Joyce Bass wouldn't walk to the road to get her mail, or bring out her trash, or even sit on her front porch. But since the arrest of 36-year-old Ryan Sharpe, she said she can finally rest easy.

"I'm just so happy today," Joyce Bass said. "I just don't know how to explain it."

Law enforcement arrested Sharpe, 14227 La. 959, Clinton, on Wednesday in three killings and one nonfatal shooting that have occurred in the area since July. In their announcement late Wednesday night, authorities did not use the term "serial killer" to describe the arrest of one man in the four shootings, all within a 25-mile radius since July and all targeted at middle-aged men. But East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said authorities were being "open-minded" to "any and all possibilities."

Thomas Bass, 62, was killed in the first shooting outside his house on July 8. Unlike the other shootings, Bass was found dead closer to his home, where the shooter would have had to come up on the property.

Thomas Bass' great nephew Cameron Bass had been checking up on Joyce Bass, helping with her mail, trash and yard. Since the attack on his great uncle, he said he's carried a gun on him while mowing grass - something he didn't do before.

The Basses didn't know that Sharpe had ever visited Thomas Bass' house to do any plumbing work, but they couldn't be sure because he lived alone. Joyce Bass said her brother-in-law might have helped him haul some gravel, as he often took odd jobs for people with his dump truck.

"He was a good man," Joyce Bass said about her brother in law.

The family of another man who was fatally shot said they are also feeling a lot of relief knowing the person who's been committing the crimes has been caught.

"I'm glad to know it was not multiple people (shooting)," said Stephanie Breeden, Carroll Breeden's daughter-in-law. "I'm glad to hear that it wasn't a group that they were looking for."

Stephanie Breeden said, as far as she knows, her family did not know Sharpe or his extended family.

"I can only imagine someone who would do something like that would have some kind of mental illness, but there's absolutely nothing I have to go by to say for sure one way or another," she said.

Breeden, 66, was killed on Sept. 19 as he sprayed weeds by the road in front of his Pride home, just over the parish line from Clinton.

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Follow Grace Toohey on Twitter, @grace_2e.