Authorities arrested three Ethel men in the brutal killing and robbery of a 73-year-old Zachary woman who was found last week bound and fatally shot in her home.
A 24-year-old man whom the husband of Frances Jane Schultz had previously hired to help bale hay, as well as the man's brother and a friend, were arrested Friday in the homicide and robbery.
“To do something like this is totally heartless," East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said at a press conference announcing the arrests. "It’s a vicious crime."
Brothers Adrian Curtis, 24, and Courtland Curtis, 25, were arrested Friday, along with Donevan Brown, 22, in the killing of Schultz and the robbery of her Zachary home. Adrian Curtis had previously worked for her husband, but then returned on March 21, when, officials said, Curtis approached Francis Jane Schultz under the guise of finding more work. Instead, the three men forced their way into the home, bound Schultz with duct tape, ransacked the home, and killed her.
Art Schultz attended a funeral for an old friend Thursday evening and stopped at McDonald's to pick up a fish sandwich for his wife before ret…
"This was not some random home invasion," Gautreaux said. "The victim of the crime and the perpetrators of the crime were acquainted with each other.”
Gautreaux said it was fortunate her husband was not home at the time the three men came to the home; otherwise, deputies might have investigated a double homicide.
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Schultz was pronounced dead after emergency crews arrived around 8:20 p.m. on March 21 to the couple's residence in the 24000 block of Brian Road in Zachary. Her husband had a hay baling business on their property and also kept horses, often hiring help to assist him, Gautreaux said.
Preliminary autopsy results from last week revealed Schultz died from multiple gunshot wounds. Though officials previously thought she had also been beaten, Gautreaux said on Friday they do not believe that happened.
Adrian Curtis told investigators that Brown had driven him and his brother to the Schultz home, according to the men's arrest warrants. Once there, he said, his brother, Courtland Curtis, used his shoulder to force his way through the home's front storm door and then dragged Schultz into the living room. All three men tied her up with duct tape, binding her arms and legs, and covering her eyes and mouth, the reports say.
Then, they rummaged through the residence, opening drawers and closets looking for valuables. According to their arrest reports, the men took two guns as well as a solitaire diamond ring. Gautreaux said other valuables were taken, but he declined to disclose more details Friday.
Investigators believe Courtland Curtis then used one of the stolen guns to shoot Schultz in the head multiple times, Gautreaux said.
"This was a hideous, evil crime," said Zachary Police Chief David McDavid, whose department first responded to the killing, but then worked with the Sheriff's Office. "We're not going to allow this to go on in Zachary."
Gautreaux said Adrian Curtis became a suspect because at this house his nickname and phone number were written on a notepad, which the couple often used to write down important information or notes to each other. Her husband, Art Schultz, later told investigators the note was not there when he had left the home for a funeral that day; he recognized the handwriting as his wife's.
Investigators believe Frances Schultz wrote down Adrian Curtis' name that night when he first approached her, possibly thinking he had come to complete some work, the sheriff said.
"The initial contact with Ms. Schultz was with the pretense of wanting to get some work," Gautreaux said. "They went there to rob them. … He didn't show up to work but that was the ruse."
Investigators were also able to match DNA from Frances Schultz' fingernails with Adrian Curtis. Arrest documents note there were many signs a struggle occurred between the 73-year-old woman and her assailants.
"We hope this can bring some closure to the family," Gautreaux said after the men were arrested. “This is the result of a tireless effort, around-the-clock work, from multiple agencies.”
Adrian Curtis and Courtland Curtis, both of 7903 John Turner Lane in Ethel, and Donevan Brown, of 6179 Kinnons Lane in Ethel, have each been booked in Parish Prison on counts of first-degree murder and aggravated burglary.