WALKER — For a quiet rural area in Livingston Parish it was a particularly shocking crime.
Rick McBride, 61, was found brutally shot to death in his modest wooden home nestled among the trees after a break-in last July. How it came to happen was more shocking still, and involves a group of young people — allegedly led by an 18-year-old convicted burglar who was looking for $40,000 in cash McBride was said to have stashed away and his collection of guns.
Police reports filed in court recount the tale of how Blayson Fife, of Prairieville, allegedly burglarized McBride's home, killed him, returned with others twice to loot the house of guns and cash and then fled all the way to California before getting arrested near the Mexico border.
More than 200 pages of police documents, including interviews with suspects, friends and witnesses, portray Fife as a manipulative teen obsessed with stealing McBride's valuables, displaying no concern about his death and willing to boast online about the burglary that many people said he referred to as "the lick."
At the time of his arrest, Fife was on a five-year probation stint for a string of burglaries committed in Livingston Parish just eight months prior. Fife has pleaded not guilty to first degree murder in the death of McBride.
His court-appointed attorney, Allen Harvey, declined to comment on his defense, saying he's still reviewing the evidence. But he noted that Fife was barely 18 years old at the time McBride was killed.
"When this allegedly occurred, he was 18 by two months. Sometimes, things happen when you’re young that wouldn’t happen when you’re older," Harvey said.
The Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office arrested six other people under the age of 20 — some of whom have criminal records for burglary crimes — for their roles in the crime, including allegedly helping Fife burglarize McBride's house and joining him as he fled with the stolen goods to California.
"It's certainly a significant case and a very tragic and senseless crime that we intend to pursue until the end," said Livingston Parish District Attorney Scott Perrilloux.
Perrilloux said he does not plan to seek the death penalty against Fife, due to his age, lack of significant violent criminal history and the current climate, in which it is difficult to sustain a death sentence through an appeals process.
A grand jury handed down indictments Tuesday against two Ascension Parish men in the July slaying of a 61-year-old man at his home in Walker.
The tale begins about a week before McBride was discovered dead in his house on July 23. Fife heard second-hand that an arsenal of guns and a pile of cash were ripe for the taking in McBride's home on Pine Park Drive. He convinced two women to drive him there to steal it, according to information gathered by police.
On both occasions, a pickup was parked in the driveway, and they left.
On the evening of July 21, 2017, Fife sent a Snapchat to his friend, Joe Baluch, asking Baluch to take him there to get guns and money. Baluch said he noticed a white pickup was parked in the driveway, but Fife had previously told him the man was on vacation.
They parked a few houses away and walked towards McBride's, which is located on a dead end in a wooded area south of Walker. Fife looked for a rumored spare key, but couldn't find it. So, he climbed the meter box, broke the laundry room window with a pistol and climbed inside the house, Baluch told police.
The men snuck inside and nabbed two guns off a kitchen counter and an assault rifle and silencer from a computer room, Baluch said. But Baluch said he left when he caught a glimpse of the man asleep in his recliner chair through the bedroom door.
Fife told him he wasn't leaving without the money. Baluch said he went back to the car and heard 4 to 5 gunshots.
Baluch recalled Fife telling him he'd gone into the master bedroom of the home when he heard part of the recliner chair drop down. Fife said McBride tried to hit him and he shot him, Baluch told police.
Baluch has pleaded not guilty to principal to first degree murder. Baluch's attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
In an interview with investigators, Fife first denied any involvement in the case. But after hearing they found his DNA inside, he admitted breaking the window with the back of a gun, blaming his partner — whom he did not identify — for stealing guns and money from the house. He said the partner was in McBride's room when 4 to 5 shots rang out but continued to deny knowing who killed McBride.
Two people have been arrested in the July slaying of a Livingston Parish man, and three others are accused of trying to help them escape to Texas.
Baluch and others arrested in connection with the slaying all point the finger at Fife for the murder and for leading two trips back to the house in the early morning hours of July 22.
A juvenile who got swept up in the events told police he was sitting in a parking lot behind Premier Bowling in Gonzales around 2:30 a.m. with Jace Chiquelin 19, of St. Amant, when Fife's friends started calling them. Fife needed someone to take him to pick up a phone from his mom's house and take him to the hospital, the juvenile said he was told.
But when they picked up Fife from a grocery in Prairieville, he directed them to take him instead to the house in Walker.
Two more people have been arrested in the July 22 homicide of a 61-year-old Walker gun collector, the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office repor…
The juvenile said Fife told him to follow him into the house, where he saw a body lying on the floor. Fife gathered guns from the residence that he carried out in a long bag, before directing the young men to take him back to Gonzales, the juvenile and Chiquelin told police. Fife paid them $40 for their troubles, the juvenile told police.
Chiquelin has pleaded not guilty to accessory to aggravated burglary of an inhabited dwelling. His court record says he is represented by the public defender's office. Harvey, who is Fife's public defender, said he has not yet been assigned an attorney. Chiquelin could not be reached at two publicly listed numbers.
It is unclear what charges the juvenile faces. He was arrested on accessory after the fact to first degree murder.
It wouldn't be the last time Fife allegedly visited the scene. Each time, according to one of his co-defendants, Trevor Lockett, "he would go check on the deceased body of the victim to make sure he was dead, looking at the victim in the eyes."
Early the next morning, on July 22, Fife called Kerstin Avery and asked her to take him to the house, where he stole what she later learned was another 20 guns and a plastic container with $12,000 cash, she told police.
Avery, 18, of Gonzales, told police Fife was bragging about the "lick," his apparent term for a burglary, as they went to his grandmother's house in Gonzales to fetch clothes and then to her house so she could do the same.
They picked up Lockett, 17, of Coushatta, and Kameron Jones, 17, of Gonzales, stopped by a Baton Rouge skate park to sell some of the guns to an unknown man, and hit the road, Avery said.
Telling Lockett they were heading to a skateboarding competition, Fife allegedly handed out part of his stolen cash to his pals and they took off on Interstate 10 with the idea of going to California.
Lockett, Avery and Jones have all pleaded not guilty to accessory to first degree murder. Attorneys for Lockett and Jones could not be reached for comment.
Avery's attorney, Jasper Brock, said in his client's defense that she was not aware of the murder or what Fife stole until they were en route to California, which was characterized to her as a free trip.
"She did not know anything until she was on her way to California," Brock said.
While the teens were on the road, the story was spinning out to investigators.
Neighbors who noticed McBride not taking his daily walk went to check on him on Sunday morning, July 23. They found McBride, a man who surrounded himself with firearms, laying by the door with four gunshot wounds. A trail of blood led back to his recliner.
The officers found broken windows in the laundry room and master bedroom. A gun safe in the living room was wide open with several guns inside. And a large number of empty handgun boxes were strewn around the bedroom, according to reports in court filings.
During their investigation, police identified Baluch as a person of interest. He agreed to talk on July 25, providing key details about the crime and that Fife and the three others were on the road for California. They were, he said, "flashing guns and large sums of money on Snapchat."
Police also got a call through Crime Stoppers that mentioned Fife's name in connection with the McBride's killing.
Investigators learned that a man who was close to McBride had bragged to a friend about the victim having lots of guns and money. That man told Fife, who apparently responded, "I wish I had that," reports say.
What exactly the four did on their cross-country drive is not spelled out in the reports. Avery told police they stopped at a mall in Texas to buy clothes, slippers, boots and an iPad. Avery told police she learned about the murder along the way through a call from her grandmother and posts on social media.
Lockett said Fife told him he killed the man. If he snitched, Fife warned, he would kill Lockett and the others in the car, according to Lockett's statement to police.
Lockett said Fife dumped the murder weapon off I-10 in California.
"(Lockett) advised after disposing of the weapon, they left the area. However, they had to return to the same scene, because Fife had left his shoes at the site where he had disposed of the gun," the police report says.
Five days after the murder, the four were arrested by Border Patrol agents at a checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, Texas, which is near El Paso. Inside the car were two of the guns missing from McBride's home, according to reports filed in the court record.
The four suspects arrested in Texas in the slaying of a 61-year-old Walker man during the burglary of his home were stopped by federal border …
In one revealing photo investigators found on Jones' phone, Fife is seen shooting a gun at a sign in Lordsburg, New Mexico, according to the reports. Police contacted law enforcement there, who found a discarded shell casing and mailed it back to Livingston.
The report filed in the court record said it was a match to those found at the McBride crime scene.