Two men wanted in the double slaying Saturday at a mobile home along Tunica Trace in St. Francisville turned themselves in to Lafayette police early Sunday morning, bringing to five the number of people arrested in the killings.
Yet even as the arrests added up, authorities and family members said Sunday they’re still not sure what might have precipitated the fatal shootings of 56-year-old Clinton Ray Nicholson and 55-year-old Brian Mooney, longtime friends who were shot to death inside Nicholson’s trailer in St. Francisville about 3 a.m. Saturday.
Paul Bourque Jr., 22, of Youngsville, and Kristofer Cockerham, 19, of St. Francisville, were arrested about 1:30 a.m. Sunday on warrants for first-degree murder in the deaths.
West Feliciana sheriff’s deputies arrested three women on counts of principal to first-degree murder Saturday night: Kylie Jackson, 23, of Clinton; Raven Majoria, 21, of St. Francisville; and Lindsey Dooley, 26, also of St. Francisville.
Relatives of the two slain men said all five of those arrested are familiar and from the St. Francisville area.
“I went to school with one of them, grew up with another,” said Stacey Nicholson, 25, the daughter of Clinton Ray Nicholson. She said her father was close friends with Majoria’s father.
But both Stacey Nicholson and Mooney’s sister, Sharon Smith, said they weren’t aware of any personal dealings between the two victims and those accused in their deaths, all of whom are several decades younger than the victims.
The arrests “made it more painful because those are children we’ve known the majority of their lives that were involved in it,” Smith said.
Mooney, a former truck driver and heavy equipment operator who was on disability, frequently stopped by Clinton Ray Nicholson’s home, Smith said.
“Nobody expects for their family to be hurt when they’re somewhere they’ve been a thousand times,” Smith said.
Smith described her brother as “an all-around country boy” who loved riding horses and hunting.
“I loved him, and he was a good man,” Smith said. “He was taken too soon.”
Cockerham’s aunt, Erica Cockerham, was named as a person of interest Saturday morning but was released after being questioned by West Feliciana sheriff’s deputies, said Erin Foster, spokeswoman for the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Erica Cockerham, 27, had been staying at Clinton Ray Nicholson’s trailer as she tried to get back on her feet, the victim’s daughter said.
Bourque remained in jail Sunday night in Lafayette on outstanding warrants in that jurisdiction, Foster said, but Kristofer Cockerham was turned over to West Feliciana sheriff’s deputies and booked into jail in St. Francisville.
Deputies determined that five people went to the mobile home in the 9400 block of La. 66 early Saturday, and the three women, Jackson, Majoria and Dooley, were dropped off, Foster said. After a number of shots were fired, the vehicle returned and picked the trio up, Foster said.
The counts against those arrested indicate that authorities believe Bourque and Cockerham killed the two men and that Jackson, Majoria and Dooley aided the pair in the plot. Foster, though, said deputies “are still investigating specific details” of the shootings and declined to say what role each suspect may have played.
“We know that all five had full knowledge of the crime that was being committed,” Foster said.
Deputies investigating the shooting found the remnants of a meth lab in a shed on the property, Foster said. She declined to say whether authorities believe the discovery is related to the killings.
Authorities closed in on the five suspects in part because a motorist in Ascension Parish spotted them tossing papers and a wallet belonging to one of the victims out the window of their pickup after the shooting, Foster said. The witness jotted down the truck’s plate number and provided investigators with a description of the occupants.
Stacey Nicholson, whose 7-year-old son was in the trailer at the time of the shooting but was unharmed, said the swift arrests showed investigators were making progress toward piecing the case together and offered some degree of comfort to her family.
“Of course, you still have that ‘why,’ ” she said. “No matter what answer they give you, it’ll never be enough.”
Follow Bryn Stole on Twitter, @BrynStole.