Two weeks after the bodies of a slain Baton Rouge couple were discovered in the back seat of their pickup at a Hammond truck stop parking lot, authorities still haven’t been able to identify the man believed to have been an accomplice.
Ernesto Llerena Alonso, 42, of Baton Rouge, was arrested in Florida on Oct. 21 and is being held without bail while he awaits a Nov. 19 hearing in Fort Lauderdale on his extradition to Louisiana, where he’s wanted on two counts each of first-degree murder and second-degree kidnapping in the grisly slayings of Denis “Bubbie” Duplantier, 71, and Suzanne “Suzy” Duplantier, 70.
Grainy security footage from the Petro truck stop in Hammond shows Alonso and an unidentified man dropping the couple’s pickup off in a remote corner of the parking lot, prosecutors wrote in the extradition request.
“There’s been no progress in identifying a second individual to my knowledge,” East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Monday.
The surveillance video shows little more than silhouettes of the two men climbing into a white Chevy pickup that followed the Duplantiers’ truck to the gas station before driving off, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie said after a news conference Oct. 21 announcing Alonso’s arrest.
The white Chevy was recovered — along with a large amount of cash believed to have been taken from a safe in the Duplantiers’ Highland Road home — when Alonso was arrested by a SWAT team in Hollywood, Florida.
Baton Rouge Police spokesman Cpl. Don Coppola said Monday that detectives have been actively following leads in the case and that it remains “very much an ongoing investigation.”
Alonso, a Cuban national who had a green card to reside and work in the United States, lived for several years in an apartment above a barn on property owned by the Duplantiers off Nicholson Drive and did occasional landscaping work for the couple.
Moore said he hasn’t yet been able to confirm reports that Alonso may have recently visited Cuba but said there was concern he may have been trying to flee the country.
An extradition warrant for Alonso was signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday, Moore said, clearing the way for a Florida judge to rule on whether to allow East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputies to bring Alonso back to Louisiana. Gov. Bobby Jindal, Secretary of State Tom Schedler and Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell signed off on the warrant Thursday.
Unless Alonso, who previously told a judge that he opposes his extradition, decides to reverse course and waive the extradition hearing, the earliest Alonso could be brought back to Louisiana is after the Nov. 19 court date, Moore said.
Authorities in Baton Rouge allege that Alonso bound and beat the elderly couple in their Highland Road home until he gained access to a safe containing a large amount of money, according to an arrest warrant. After taking the cash from the safe, Alonso strangled the victims before driving their bodies to the Hammond truck stop, the warrant says.
In the Duplantiers’ home, detectives found blood in several rooms, indicating a fight. A search of the barn where Alonso lived turned up items he may have used to kill the couple, the warrant says.