Seek the truth, not sensationalism

Public outcry has been reignited regarding the unsolved murders of eight victims commonly referred to as the “Jeff Davis Eight.”

The fact that the person(s) responsible for taking the lives of these women remains free, however, is never far from the minds of the victims’ families or law enforcement.

The latest spark was triggered by a story which appeared recently via internet, written by a New Orleans-based reporter. Although an interesting read, it leads the reader to point fingers, question authorities, and worst of all, force the families of the victims to relive the nightmare once again.

The story drops names – of suspects, officials, victims and their families – and even offers supposed facts from files that were allegedly obtained from the active investigations that involve several area agencies. These agencies and officials deny sharing the files, and claim several pieces of information are incorrect. Although the writer claims the facts in the story were verified by authorities as being accurate, authorities deny doing that as well.

The story also received a boost that Thursday when a New Orleans CBS affiliate ran a piece on his writing and the Jeff Davis Eight. Coincidentally – or maybe not – Lake Charles’ KPLC the same day made public raw footage of interviews conducted with two suspects in the case, footage it first refused to turn over at the request of investigators and District Attorney Michael Cassidy, and footage it also claimed in the 31st Judicial District Court had been destroyed.

The footage was not exactly turned over to local authorities last week. Instead, KPLC posted the footage on its web site for all to see, including investigators.

While most everyone is thankful to see interest in the cases revived, two damaging issues have arisen from last week’s published information – law enforcement officers who were not even working in this parish during the eight murders are being bombarded with unfair criticism, and several area residents have shown their lack of compassion and respect by voicing their opinion that the victims somehow deserved or should have anticipated their fate.

Most of us would agree that the Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office (JDSO) and Jennings Police Department (JPD) have undergone a major facelift, both in public and behind the scenes. The complaints against those two are not nearly as high – or dramatic – as when previous leaders and administrations were in place. Sheriff Ivy Woods and Police Chief Todd D’Albor even made much-needed adjustments to their own staffs, by changing duties or changing individuals altogether.

So it is not right, or fair, to blame current individuals for what previous leaders or law enforcement officers did during the height of the murders.

Were any law enforcement officers or local officials directly involved with any of the murders?

Did certain investigators, leaders, cops and/or deputies damage evidence, thwart investigative efforts and attempt to cover the tracks of some suspects in the case?

For most, the answer to any of these questions would be a very loud, “Yes!” In previous years, this newspaper and others reported quite frequently on how specific individuals were caught red-handed making decisions they had to know, as law enforcement, would damage cases. We won’t rehash the details here. The truth and facts are out there for the world to see.

We have heard the cries of the public, and victims’ loved ones, who keep insisting people with a badge and gun and people in powerful positions had a hand in this. Many believe these girls didn’t die at the hands of someone in these positions, but that those same people do know the identity of the killer(s) and are protecting them. If this is the case – and we certainly hope it isn’t – they are as guilty as the killer(s) themselves and should be brought to justice as well.

Still, remember we have current leaders, as well as deputies and city police, who are truly dedicated to their jobs and have no blood on their hands. They want answers and justice just as the public does – but presenting hardcore, untainted evidence and witnesses is not as easy as it looks on television. During an investigation, there are always facts and findings that are not released to public and the media. Law enforcement must do this in order to do their jobs properly and to insure a conviction. We all want to see justice come for these women, and we all want to know that there is progress being made. But having people share half-truths, present rumors and hearsay as being factual and private citizens conducting their own “investigations” only cloud the waters and make the job of investigators that much more difficult.

On the other side of this, victims’ families are reliving their grief and loss all over again. It would be one thing for the media to recall the eight victims and facts surrounding their cases. However, many individuals who are hiding behind their keyboards on social media and other internet sites are actually bashing the victims.

No matter whom any of the victims associated with or what they may or may not have been involved with during their time on earth, they were human beings. They were special to many individuals and loved dearly. No one on this earth has the authority to say their deaths were somehow their own faults. No human has the right to murder another in cold blood; Loretta, Ernestine, Kristen, Whitnei, “Muggy”, Crystal Shay, Brittney and Necole did not deserve to die, especially at the hands of others. Anyone who believes this or openly expresses this opinion is truly not worth arguing with; frankly, they are ignorant, cold-hearted individuals who would likely cower instead of repeating that opinion should they be faced with any of the eight victims’ loved ones.

This newspaper still believes the truth will one day come out and that justice will be served. Will heads spin when all the details emerge? Most likely.

No one is powerful or smart enough to get away with something forever on this earth.

Even if they do, they still have to face the toughest Judge of all.

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Posted by on Feb 8 2014. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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