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A FATAL CELEBRATION

 ONE DEAD, ONE MAY DIE AFTER FIGHT AT DANCE – LEONCE THIBODEAUX OF NORTHERN PART OF PARISH DIES FROM STABBING. CORMIER AND TWO COMEAUX YOUTHS HELD IN PARISH JAIL HERE

Crowley Dailey Signal – December 26, 1929

One youth is dead, another critically wounded and three others, two of whom bear knife wounds, are in the parish jail here as the result of a fight occurring

Christmas afternoon in the country northeast of Branch and about three miles southeast of Church Point.

LEONCE THIBODEAUX, 18 year old son of Mr. & Mrs. GILBERT THIBODEAUX, died a few minutes after he was stabbed in the right chest following an altercation that took place at about 5 p.m. Wednesday in front of the MARTIN MATT[1] home where a country dance party was in progress. His brother GABRIEL THIBODEAUX[2], slightly younger than Leonce, is in the Legion Memorial hospital[3] here with a fractured skull, stab wounds in the shoulder and back and with two painful lacerations on the scalp, believed to have been caused by a fence post.

In the parish jail in Crowley were JOE CORMIER, about 30, cut in the back, CLEVELAND COMEAUX, cut in the right arm, and his brother FERJUS COMEAUX.  Cormier was arrested by SHERIFF LARCADE, at home in bed nursing his wound. This morning the sheriff went to the Comeaux home and the two brothers gave themselves up, stating that they would have come to Crowley, but had no car in which to make the trip. The three men were jailed and held awaiting possible filing of charges in connection with the death of Thibodeaux.

How the fight started was a matter veiled in mystery, which District Attorney GREMILLION, Sheriff LARCADE and other officers, hope to penetrate further following an inquest which will be held at Church Point at 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon. Coroner Z.J. FRANCEZ and other officers went to the scene of the tragedy last night, but their investigation failed to develop a complete story of the afternoon’s fatal celebration.

That there were witnesses to the fight seems certain in the minds of officers, who say that it could not have been otherwise in view of the fact that the trouble occurred in daylight and with others nearby who would have been attracted to the scene. Those questioned so far have not given much of value to the story, but the district attorney, who has had much experience in building up cases of which this is fairly typical, had not by any means exhausted the resources of his office.

It appears to be one of the many killings conforming more or less to the pattern. There is a dance on some special occasion. In high spirits the young men gather, perhaps a slight old grudge is magnified or a new one invented or built up in stimulated fancies. After a little trouble in the house the principals meet again outside, words pass, then blows are exchanged others mix in and soon from everywhere and nowhere knives flash.  In many cases pistols are used, but in this one, the deadly work was done by a blade that touched a vital spot between the ribs of young Thibodeaux.

No one has seen the knife, no one saw any knives yesterday, or at least it would appear so, judging from the stories of witnesses examined up to mid-morning. This too conforms to the pattern. After these affairs in the past, it has been difficult to get the story together. The weapon is missing, the motive in the dark. Persons present clean up the evidences of what has taken place and then in many cases leave for their homes.

The young man died within a few minutes after he was stabbed and even before the physician arrived.

His funeral was to be held this afternoon at 3:30 from the Catholic Church at Church Point, funeral arrangements and interment being in charge of RENE J. DELAUNE at Rayne.

His brother’s condition remained critical, it was learned at the local hospital.

INQUEST INTO KILLING OPENS

Crowley Dailey Signal, Friday, December 27, 1929

  About Six Witnesses Examined Up to Late This Afternoon.

Drawing out a story of the killing of LEONCE THIBODEAUX, 18 year old resident of northeast Acadia Parish, this afternoon appeared in a difficult task as the inquest opening after 2 pm., in Church Point continued.

Six witnesses, all of whom were said to have been present at the MARTIN MATT home between Branch and Church Point, on Christmas afternoon, when the killing occurred, had been quizzed, but Sheriff WALTER LARCADE told the Signal over long distance telephone that little of a definite nature had been obtained from the preliminary questioning.

Meanwhile at Crowley, Leonce’s brother GABRIEL, lay in the Legion hospital with severe injuries that included a fractured skull and stab wounds, while three other alleged participants of the altercation in the yard of the Matt home were in jail awaiting developments.

They are JOE CORMIER and CLEVLAND COMEAUX, both slightly wounded, and Cleveland’s brother FERGUS, all residents of the community where the killing occurred at a dance about 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Today’s inquest was being held in the town hall at Church Point, District Attorney  JAMES GREMILLION, Sheriff LARCADE, Coroner Z.J. FRANCEZ and others having gone over early in the afternoon.

NEW ARREST FOLLOWS INQUEST INTO THIBODEAUX KILLING FOR WHICH TWO ALREADY JAILED HELD RESPONSIBLE

Crowley Dailey Signal, Saturday December 28, 1929

CORMIER, FERGUS COMEAUX likely Accused in Killing; BERNICE DAIGLE arrested.

JOE CORMIER and FERGUS COMEAUX today awaited filing of charges in connection with the fatal stabbing of LEONCE THIBODEAUX, 18, a coroner’s jury having rendered a decision holding two men responsible for the death of the northeast Acadia parish youth in a Christmas afternoon dance at the home of MARTIN MATT, between Branch and Church Point.

District Attorney JAMES GREMILLION at noon said that he had not decided whether or not to file charges of murder or manslaughter. In considering this he indicated that much would depend upon developments at the Legion Memorial hospital where GABRIEL THIBODEAUX, younger brother of LEONCE is lying with a fractured skull and stab wounds received in an altercation that broke up a country dance at the MATT home at about 5 o’clock Christmas afternoon.

It was understood that if the wounded man dies charges of murder will be filed against JOE CORMIER, FERGUS COMEAUX and CLEVELAND COMEAUX, the  latter being held in jail in connection with the wounding of GABRIEL THIBODEAUX, although the coroner’s jury did not name him in connection with the killing.

BERNICE DAIGLE, a first cousin of the slain youth and of JOE COMEAUX,  held for his killing, was arrested by Sheriff WALTER LARCADE last night in Rayne. Daigle was named by witnesses at the inquest as having been seen with a knife. All of the principals, including the dead man, were reported to have carried similar weapons and to have drawn them during the trouble outside the MATT home.  It appeared from the testimony at the inquest held in the Church Point town hall late Friday afternoon that there had been trouble inside the MATT home, that MATT had ordered the men outside and that the quarrel had been resumed in the yard.

In addition to the sheriff, district attorney and Coroner Z.J. FRANCEZ present at the inquest were near relatives of the slain youth and of those held for the crime.

The inquest opened at 2 p.m. On the jury were TEMAR BERGERON, HEBRARD THIBODEAUX, CHARLES QUEBODEAUX, FERNEST LEJEUNE and DAVID BERGERON. Relatives of the slain and wounded youths and of the three men in jail were present by invitation. GALBERT THIBODEAUX, father of the two THIBODEAUX boys, ETIENNE THIBODEAUX and a grandfather of the boys were present to represent their side. LUMA COMEAUX, father of the two boys in jail, DOZETIE DOUCET, a grandfather of JOE CORMIER, LOUIS DAIGLE, uncle of the two COMEAUXs, and FERNEST DAIGLE, uncle of the COMEAUX boys, were also there as witnesses of the accused.

Witnesses, all of whom were present at the MATT home on the afternoon of the killing, were VOORHIES MECHE, ORAS DOUCET, ERASTE DOUCET, ETIENNE DOUCET, AMOS MATT, SHELBY MATT, MARTIN MATT, owner of the house near which the fight  took place, and HOMER MECHE.

At the close of the inquest the jury announced its conclusion that young THIBODEAUX had come to his death at the hands of JOE CORMIER and FERGUS COMEAUX. CLEVELAND COMEAUX, who had been arrested with the two others after the killing, was not named by the jury in connection with the wounding of GABRIEL THIBODEAUX. They indicated that witnesses would testify that CLEVELAND COMEAUX hit GABRIEL with a post and caused injuries, from which his recovery is in doubt.  Should he die it was disclosed today, the trio will probably face murder charges.

Testimony concerning the three first jailed also led the sheriff on another trail which ended last night in Rayne when he arrested BERNICE DAIGLE, first cousin to the slain youth and to the COMEAUXs.  He is being held in jail here for questioning and for possible connection with the killing, as witnesses at the inquest testified that he was seen with a knife and was present at the fight. According to reports following the inquest, which was not open to the public, the COMEAUXs, CORMIER and the slain youth, LEONCE THIBODEAUX were seen with knives at the fight scene, but so far none of the weapons have been found by the sheriff or district attorney.  DAIGLE who lives in the same community as the others was arrested at about 8 o’clock last night in Rayne.

No motive has been disclosed to account for the killing, and the sheriff said that the inquest developed no charges that there had been excessive drinking by alleged participants of the fight, a circumstance contrasting with many other killings at country dances.

When the district attorney and sheriff began questioning on the night and day following the killing, they were unable to find any persons who would admit that they were present at the time. After investigation, however, the sheriff said that he found persons who told him that the persons later summoned as witnesses had been at the tragedy scene and when the sheriff confronted those questioned with this apparent proof, telling them where they had been standing in the yard or in the house, they told him the story.

He and the district attorney, as well as the coroner, have had experience in cases more or less like this one and their questioning finally produced results hoped by the prosecution to form an important basis of its case.

TWO RELEASED ON BOND HERE…YOUTHS HELD IN CONNECTION WITH MURDER RELEASED FROM JAIL

 Crowley Signal January 9, 1930

JOSEPH CORMIER and FERGUS COMEAUX, held in connection with the death of LEONCE THIBODEAUX, 18 year old Church Point youth, were released on $7,500 bond each from the parish jail here Thursday morning after being held in county jail following their arrest December 26.

Cormier also faces a second charge, that of assault, and he made a $500 bond on this charge making his total bond $8,000.

THIBODEAUX died Christmas day a few minutes after he was stabbed in the right chest following an altercation that took place about 5 p.m. in front of the MARTIN MATT home where a country dance party was in progress. This is located in the country northeast of Branch about three miles southeast of Church Point.

GABRIEL THIBODEAUX, a younger brother of Leonce, was also injured in the affair but has been released from the American Legion Memorial hospital here where he was brought following the stabbing. He suffered a fractured skull, stab wounds in the shoulder, back and head.

CLEVELAND CORMIER, brother of Joe was also arrested at the same time as his brother and Comeaux. He too had suffered injuries.

The affairs to be just some of the many which have occurred over the parish.  Just whether it will be possible for the parish authorities to establish the fact Thibodeaux was killed in cold blood murder will remain to see what is brought out in the trial here.

MANSLAUGHTER

Crowley Signal (before May 26, 1930)

JOSEPH CORMIER AND FERGUS COMEAUX indicted on charge of manslaughter, both entered pleas of not guilty and trial date was set for May 26.  In a second case in which they are charged with stabbing with intent to kill, they also entered not guilty pleas and the date of trial was set for May 26.

JURY IS SELECTED IN STABBING CASE…TWELVE MEN TO TRY FERGUS COMEAUX AND JOSEPH CORMIER ON CUTTING CHARGE PICKED.

Crowley Signal May 1930

The last of the five jurors required to try FERJUS COMEAUX and JOSEPH CORMIER charged with cutting and intent to kill one GABRIEL THIBODEAUX during a celebration Christmas afternoon at the home of MARTIN MATTE near Church Point, was accepted by the state and counsel for defense shortly before noon recess of district court Monday, in the person of EVAN ANDING.

In compliance with a recently enacted law, District Attorney J.A. GREMILLION outlined the case and what they expected to prove to the jury as soon as they were accepted and sworn.  He stated that on Christmas afternoon a gathering of young and old assembled at the home of MARTIN MATTE for a celebration of the Christmas holiday. An argument started in the yard among some of the young people of which the accused and the complainant were a part and it was reported to MATTE.  He went out and found some of them including FERGUS COMEAUX with open knives and told them they would have to close them or go away.  COMEAUX followed MATTE into the house and when told to close his knife retorted that it was “his knife and he would close it when he pleased”. He asked for his hat and left the house. The fuss continued in the back yard. CLEVELAND COMEAUX, brother of FERGUS, pulled a fence post from the ground and struck THIBODEAUX over the head. As he fell he threw his knife at COMEAUX. As they got up COMEAUX and JOE CORMIER came running up and stabbed THIBODEAUX three times as he lay on the ground stunned from the blow by the fence stake.

When first examined both the accused pleaded non guilty and asked for a trial by jury. The morning was spent in the preliminaries and the taking of testimony will be the work of the court for the afternoon.

STATE IS OFFERING EVIDENCE TUESDAY…DISTRICT COURT STILL OCCUPIED WITH TAKEN TESTIMONY IN STABBING CASE

Crowley Signal May 27, 1930

The day’s routine in the 15th district court for Tuesday included the case of the State of Louisiana vs. FERJUS COMEAUX and JOSEPH CORMIER charged with cutting and intent to kill GABRIEL THIBODEAUX while attending a Christmas day dance and celebration at the home of MARTIN MATTE near Church Point. P.T. OGDEN and C.B. DeBELLVUE are looking after the defendants in the matter.  None of the principals in this case speak English and an interpreter has to be employed. Cross examination is conducted under trying circumstances with supreme satisfaction registered on the faces of counsel on both sides that they understand both English and French “as she is spoke” and can make out common cuss words and make a pass at prayer if pushed to the extremity. The state still has the floor and will hardly conclude their taking of testimony during the afternoon session.

STABBING CASE IS SLATED TO GO TO JURY LATE TODAY

Crowley Signal May 28, 1930

No  decrease in the interest in the trial of FERGUS COMEAUX and JOSEPH CORMIER for cutting with intent to kill GABRIEL THIBODEAUX at the home of MARTIN MATTE on Christmas day, is noticeable in the crowd that still packs the courtroom. They are mostly neighbors and friends of the parties concerned with a liberal sprinkling of Crowleyites.

A long grueling day was spent Tuesday in the selection of a jury and the taking of testimony, even holding a night session that did not adjourn until 11 o’clock at night. This morning the trail resumed and the testimony for the defense had been completed all but  few character witnesses who were being examined at 2 p.m.

Court officials and counsel hope to complete the case this afternoon as the arguments are expected to be rather brief.

JURY CONVICTS AS CHARGED IN CUTTING AFFAIR

Crowley Signal May 29, 1930

It took the jury just 30 minutes to decide that FERGUS COMEAUX and JOSEPH CORMIER were guilty of cutting with intent to kill one GABRIEL THIBODEAUX after the case was turned over to them late Wednesday night.

The arguments of the prosecutor and defense were completed about 8:45 p.m. and immediately after the summing up and charge by the judge the jury retired.  At 9:30 they returned and when polled by Clerk F.M. FONTENOT rendered a verdict of “guilty: through their foreman.

Occurred Christmas

The case grew out of an altercation which started at a dance at the home of MARTIN MATTE a few miles from Church Point where a group of neighbors had gathered to celebrate Christmas day. Quarreling started among the younger men and MATTE out to them and told them to put up their weapons. The fussing grew and finally retired to a back lot where one man pulled up a fence stake and struck THIBODEAUX  over the head and knocked him down. COMEAUX and CORMIER are said to have cut THIBODEAUX several times while he lay helpless and unconscious on the ground.

Crowley  Signal  MAY 31, 1930

In the case of FERGUS COMEAUX and JOSEPH CORMIER, convicted the charge cutting with intent to kill, notice of an appeal has been served. Attorney for the defendants stated that they would ask for a new trial and if this was denied would take an appeal.

The two men were charged with cutting with intent to murder but were convicted of cutting with intent to kill.

PARISH MEN TO FACE CHARGE IN DISTRICT COURT

Crowley Signal  FEBRUARY 2, 1931

 

Supreme Court rules Cormier and Comeaux must stand trial on Charge. 

Two Convicted of Intent to kill now to be tried for Manslaughter

Fergus Comeaux and Joseph Cormier, who were convicted here last spring on the charge of intent to kill, must stand trial on a manslaughter charge growing out of the same case, according to a decision of the state supreme court Monday. In the case of the state of Louisiana vs. Joseph Cormier and Fergus Comeaux, the court ordered the judgment set aside and case remanded.  This was on the manslaughter charge and means the case will go to trial here in May, according to Percy Ogden, attorney for Cormier and Comeaux.

After being convicted of intent to kill after being charged with intent to commit murder, the two were also charged with manslaughter and the defense filed a motion to quash this charge, Judge W.W. Bailey upheld the motion but the state appealed the case to the Supreme Court.


[1] Son of  Lastie Matte.

[2]  Gabriel aged 20 lives with his parents Galbert & Almire Thibodeaux in the 2nd ward of Acadia parish (1930 census)

[3] Crowley, LA

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