Escaped inmate had violent past; Accused in 2012 murder
BATON ROUGE - One of two men who managed to escape their work release job Thursday has a violent past that includes being connected to a murder in Louisiana's Cajun country, the WBRZ Investigative Unit learned.
Elwood Billiot, 33, was serving time for domestic abuse battery charges when he went missing just after lunch. The story behind him initially arriving in the care of the work release program was not immediately known. But, WBRZ uncovered Billiot last ran from the law less than a year ago.
In December 2015, authorities in Terrebonne Parish suspected he sought refuge in the swamp after running from authorities who were trying to arrest him for an earlier home invasion where he allegedly beat up his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. The Houma-area newspaper reported Billiot went looking for the woman, with whom he has a child, but only found the man at the house and attacked him. The attack happened in June 2015. Months later, in December, a deputy spotted Billiot and tried to arrest him. Billiot drove off, taking deputies on a high-speed chase before bailing in the swamp. When he went on the lam, Billiot was wanted for charges related to the home invasion and also for failure to appear on a fourth charge of domestic violence. The pursuit got him additional charges, the Houma Times reported last year.
The Times pointed out, though, that Billiot was no stranger to trouble. Authorities in Lafayette suspect Billiot might be responsible for the 2012 murder of 73-year-old Sidney Touchet. Touchet, a Navy veteran, was killed and his home set ablaze. Despite his arrest related to the killing - Billiot was booked with first-degree murder - a grand jury in Lafayette failed to indict him. However, the newspaper reported prosecutors and police still considered Billiot as a person of interest. If additional evidence against him is found, the same charges could be filed.
"If he is a suspect in a homicide and there they didn't have enough evidence for the grand jury, it doesn't mean that he didn't do it. It doesn't mean he did do it. Just the (crimes he was wanted for at the time of the pursuit) is a dangerous felony and he could get 25 to 30 years for that," Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter told the newspaper at the time of the chase involving Billiot at the end of last year.
Touchet's family has stated publicly they are frustrated with the Lafayette investigation into his death.
Posting on a Facebook page memorializing Touchet, a family member wrote - seeming to talk directly to Touchet: "It is so frustrating that your case has not even seen the light of day with regards to prosecution." On social media, family members commented they believed media attention and police resources were moved to "higher priority" cases. In 2012, Lafayette Police worked the high-profile case surrounding the disappearance and murder of college student Mickey Shunick.
"Although the powers that be have gone silent with regards to your case; I, however, will not," an unidentified family member wrote on Touchet's Facebook page.
About Billiot, state corrections officials said he was being housed in a work release dormitory at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison but was not participating in work release when he escaped. Corrections officials said Billiot was scheduled to be moved to a different facility next week.
Douglas Ellison, 25, also escaped with Billiot. Click HERE for the original WBRZ.com report that broke the story Thursday.
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