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
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
home where a country dance party was in progress. His brother GABRIEL
slightly younger than Leonce, is in the Legion Memorial hospital
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
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
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
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.
FOLLOWS INQUEST INTO THIBODEAUX KILLING FOR WHICH TWO ALREADY JAILED HELD
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
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
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
Cormier also faces a
second charge, that of assault, and he made a $500 bond on this charge making
his total bond $8,000.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Son of Lastie Matte.
Gabriel aged 20 lives with his parents Galbert & Almire Thibodeaux in the 2nd
ward of Acadia parish (1930 census)