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Man arrested for murder of Covington pastor, church worker transferred to Angola after trying to escape from St. Tammany jail

1 year 5 months 3 weeks ago Saturday, December 03 2022 Dec 3, 2022 December 03, 2022 3:04 PM December 03, 2022 in News
Source: WWL-TV

COVINGTON - A convicted rapist released from prison just months ago is accused of killing two people, a retired pastor and a church worker, and dumping their burned bodies in downtown Covington. 

The Covington Police Department said the victims were burned "beyond recognition" when they were discovered behind a glass-making company in Covington's downtown district around 7 a.m. Monday. An employee at the shop reportedly found the bodies when he showed up for work that morning. 

Hours after the victims were discovered, police announced the arrest of 49-year-old Antonio Donde Tyson of Covington. Police said during a news conference Thursday that Dodson was found driving a car belonging to one of the victims, Ruth Prats, around 3 a.m. Monday after it was reportedly involved in a hit and run hours earlier. Detectives tried to find Prats by tracking her phone, but they found the device in a dumpster.

Detectives said surveillance video from the area helped them piece together how everything unfolded, but they have not laid out what the apparent motive was for the killings.

Tyson was booked on two counts each of first-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping and obstruction of justice. He is also booked on charges of resisting an officer and illegal possession of stolen things.

Several early reports linked the investigation to a retired pastor and a pastoral associate, Father Otis Young and Ruth Prats, who went missing from the area a day earlier. The coroner's office identified one of the victims as Father Young on Tuesday afternoon, and Prats was named as the second victim Thursday. Investigators said both died from blunt-force trauma before their bodies were set on fire.

The church held a prayer vigil late Monday in response to the killings. 

“Our hearts have been shattered by this unfathomable crime,” St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper said in a social media post. “We stand behind the Covington Police Department and St. Tammany Parish Sheriffs Office as they investigate this heinous action. Please join me in praying for the families and friends of the victims and the entire Covington community.”

On Tuesday it was also uncovered that Tyson, the alleged killer, had just been released from prison after serving about 30 years of a 40-year sentence for rape, armed robbery and aggravated burglary. Department of Corrections officials reportedly told WWL-TV that Tyson, convicted in 1993, was eligible for an early release as soon as 2012, and he was released in August after meeting certain conditions. 

On Dec. 3, Tyson attempted to escape from St. Tammany Parish Jail and was transferred to Angola. 

Deputies added a charge of attempted escape and also arrested another person, David B urns, for assisting Tyson is his escape attempt. 

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