EXCLUSIVE: New lead in Belle Chasse cold case murder


BELLE CHASSE, La. (WGNO) — Detectives say the first 24 to 48 hours after a murder is crucial to solving it, after that, the clues become scarce and the case is cold.

In Belle Chasse, more than 25 years after John Tusson was stabbed to death at his home, the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office has a new lead. WGNO News was given exclusive access as the Sheriff’s Office reopened the case Tuesday morning.

Detectives were called to the back of the typically quiet Parks of Plaquemines subdivision.

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Investigators received a tip that a car was dumped in the woods. It was only discovered as the land was being cleared.

“It got entangled with all the surrounding trees, the brush and it turned into a big ball of debris,” said Lieutenant Chaun Domingue.

The car is believed to be an El Camino that was stolen after 74-year-old John Tusson was stabbed to death 26-years-ago. The car was found less than a half-mile from Tusson’s home.

“We can’t confirm right now, but we do believe this vehicle may be his vehicle that was stolen on the night of the murder,” Lt. Domingue said.

Deputies do not have any suspects or witnesses. In fact, hardly any records exist in this case.

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Until the early 2000’s, reports were hand written and stored at the courthouse.

In January 2002, the courthouse was intentionally torched and the building was a total loss.

Lt. Domingue said, “We lost the initial report. The evidence was also kept in the area and we lost that to Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, the lead investigator on that case is deceased now.”

The car that was found is in poor condition, but it is considered a major lead for detectives.

“Being out here for 20, 25, 26 years, there might be something in there that might lead us to the next step of solving this case,” Lt. Domingue said.

The Sheriff’s Office is using drones and helicopters to canvas the area for more clues.

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“Something like the drone, we can use constantly to go over the area and hopefully locate the rest of the vehicle and that might give us more potential evidence for this case,” said Lt. Domingue.

Now, detectives are hopeful this lead will jog memories and they can solve this case.

“We’re going to treat this as if the crime occurred yesterday,” the Lieutenant said. “It’s still a crime, it’s still a murder, and it’s something that needs to be solved not only for this community but also for the victim’s family.”

If you have any information about John Tusson’s murder or if you might remember any details of this case, the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office needs your help.

You can call the department at 504-934-6820 or 504-564-2525.

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