Published on March 29th, 2013 | by Daniel R. Perlman0
Man arrested in 1990 cold case
Twenty-two years later, Ryan Lavigne finally has some closure.
Kenneth Lavigne, 47, 14491 Harry Savoy Road, St. Amant, was arrested in McComb, Miss., about 7:15 p.m. Monday and was transported back to Ascension Parish on Tuesday afternoon to face prosecution in the December 1990 death of 38-year-old Jeanie Lavigne, Ryan Lavigne’s mother.
Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said in a news conference Tuesday that Kenneth Lavigne was booked into the Ascension Parish Jail on counts of first-degree murder, aggravated rape and kidnapping. Kenneth Lavigne was the nephew of Perry Lavigne, who was Jeanie Lavigne’s ex-husband and Ryan Lavigne’s father, and was Ryan Lavigne’s first cousin.
Jeanie Lavigne was abducted from her home in St. Amant, sometime between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m on Dec. 15, 1990.
Jeanie Lavigne’s partially nude body was found, with her throat slashed, by three hunters in a wooded area near La. 431 and the Amite River on the afternoon of Dec. 17, 1990.
Bacala said following Jeanie Lavigne’s slaying, the Sheriff’s Office undertook an intensive investigation. Detectives briefly contacted Kenneth Lavigne, who was 25 at the time, as a person of interest, Bacala said.
He had an extensive rap sheet that included arrests for drug possession, burglary, forgery and theft, and he also owned a red car.
An eyewitness reported a red car being parked on Harry Savoy Road near the Lavignes’ residence the night of the abduction, Bacala said, but detectives didn’t have enough evidence to carry the investigation any further.
Several months ago, through a partnership with the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab, Sheriff’s Office personnel began looking at cold cases to see if they could use new DNA technology to find any possible suspects, Bacala said. In October, detectives approached Kenneth Lavigne for a DNA sample, but he declined to provide one.
So they came up with a different plan, using Ryan Lavigne’s DNA to establish a paternal DNA link to the killer. Bacala said the crime lab determined on Friday that “the killer was a Lavigne,” which was enough to get a warrant for Kenneth Lavigne’s DNA.
After his DNA was collected, Kenneth Lavigne fled, Bacala said. After test results determined that he was indeed the man authorities believed was responsible for the killing, detectives tracked him down in McComb, Miss., where he was arrested Monday evening.
Ryan Lavigne went to live with his cousins and their mother, Carol Roy, who was Jeanie Lavigne’s sister. Carol Roy continued pursuing justice for her sister and would be proud that authorities finally caught the suspected killer.
Ryan Lavigne, now 34, said he had given up hope that his mother’s killer would ever be found. He admitted it had been “rough” accepting that one of his relatives could have been the culprit, but he is hopeful he can eventually move forward.
“There are people here in this department who this case meant a lot to,” Bacala said. “I’m one of those people. This wasn’t just another case. This one meant a lot. … These cases have to be solved. They stay in our hearts and in our minds.”
Source: theadvocate.com “Arrest made in 1990 cold case,” March 27, 2013.