GONZALES — A Crime Stoppers tip led authorities to an apartment complex on the West Bank of New Orleans where they arrested a fifth person in a 2015 double homicide in Donaldsonville that investigators have said was tied to the drug trade.
Demond Foley, 711 N. Toni St., New Orleans, and at least five other people were wanted in the shootings of Chad Nichols, 37, and Benny Booker, 29, who were gunned down at Nichols’ home on Jan. 26, 2015, sheriff’s Lt. Col. Bobby Webre said in a news release.
After briefly making a move to run, Foley, 28, was taken into custody late Friday night without incident at 3302 Behrman Place in Algiers, Deputy U.S. Marshal Walter Martin said. The arrest was a joint effort by the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, New Orleans Police Department and U.S. Marshals Service.
Sheriff’s Maj. Kevin Hanna said Tuesday that Foley, three other New Orleans men already in custody and at least one other person who is still at large rode up from New Orleans in a white Series 3 BMW to rob Nichols in Donaldsonville.
Also arrested was a man from Donaldsonville.
In the days after the shooting, investigators had said the BMW had been seen on surveillance video fleeing Nichols’ home along with Booker’s stolen 2007 white Dodge Magnum.
Booker’s vehicle, which was taken from Nichols’ driveway at the time of the homicide, was found burned March 2, 2015, at the Irish Bayou Travel Center in New Orleans East.
Deputies have said the crime scene investigation suggested a drug-related crime with the possible motive of robbery after heroin was found in Nichols’ home.
Hanna declined to comment further Tuesday on the motive for the shootings.
Quinton Jackson, 27, 7815 Sand St., New Orleans, the first of the New Orleans men arrested who was thought to have driven up to Donaldsonville, was picked up in August and his home was searched for evidence, court records show.
Then, over several days in late October, two other men were found in New Orleans, Eric Bernard, 29, and Thaddeus Nathan, 33, and another in Assumption Parish, Marlon Williams, 35, of Donaldsonville, and were arrested and booked into Ascension Parish Prison on two counts of first-degree murder.
At the time, the Sheriff’s Office did not publicize the arrests of Bernard, Nathan and Williams, though their names did appear in weekly jail booking lists distributed to the news media. Hanna defended that action Tuesday.
He said investigators did not publicize the arrests at the time because authorities were then and remain concerned that naming the men might endanger those defendants and potentially other persons of interest.
Hanna added the investigation is active and deputies are still trying to identify others who may have been involved.
Nichols, 37, was shot about 3:30 p.m. Jan. 26, 2015, in his front yard at 178 Latino St., a quiet street off La. 308 with large lots and neat houses and mobile homes.
Booker, a 29-year-old Prairieville man who worked in the pressure-washing business that Nichols had started a few months before the shooting, was found shot in the doorway of Nichols’ home and was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died a short time later.
Months of investigation led deputies to a New Orleans tie after they determined the BMW and Magnum fleeing the Nichols home had headed toward the city.
Also, shell casings recovered from the Donaldsonville double-homicide scene were examined by the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab and New Orleans Police Department Crime Lab and linked to four shootings in New Orleans between 2011 and 2013.
At the time of his arrest Friday, Foley, who has prior drug convictions, including heroin possession, had been wanted by the state Office of Probation and Parole. About five months after Nichols’ and Booker’s slayings, in June 2015, Foley absconded from supervised parole for a prior possession of a firearm by a convicted felon conviction, said Pam Laborde, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
Williams, 118 Oakridge Ave., Apt. C, Donaldsonville; Bernard, 8041 Wales St., New Orleans; and Nathan, 13111 Dequiville Court, New Orleans, were indicted in January on two counts each of first-degree murder. All three men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
According to a defense motion, prosecutors have taken the death penalty off the table for Nathan, though the status of the other defendants was not clear Tuesday.
Jackson was indicted in December on two counts of first-degree murder and pleaded not guilty to the charges March 14.
While awaiting extradition to Ascension Parish, Foley is being held in the Orleans Parish prison and faces other counts out of Orleans Parish: domestic abuse aggravated assault, domestic abuse battery involving strangulation, aggravated assault, domestic abuse battery, simple battery, possession of firearm or weapon by a convicted felon, third-offense possession of marijuana and the parole violation, Orleans Parish sheriff’s jail records show.
The Office of Probation and Parole has a hold on him, Laborde said.
Foley will be booked into the Ascension Parish Prison on two counts of first-degree murder, Ascension sheriff’s deputies said.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.