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Suspect beat the Duplantiers, license plate readers used to track accused killer

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BATON ROUGE - Arrest documents paint a violent picture of what happened inside a murdered couple's Highland Road home sometime between Sunday and Monday.

In a warrant for Ernesto Alonso's arrest, the man identified earlier Wednesday as one of the suspects in the Duplantier's kidnapping and murder, beat Denis and Suzanne Duplantier until they opened their safe inside their home. Inside the safe was a large amount of money, investigators wrote in the arrest warrant. Police have said there were items missing from the safe when they and family arrived at the scene later. The warrant reports Alonso took the money from the safe.  Police told the Associated Press, they believe the money has been located.

Relatives asked police to check on the Duplantiers Monday evening after going more than a day without hearing from them.  When police arrived, they found the home unsecured and signs of trouble. 

Alonso worked for the couple as a handyman, giving him free range of their home.  Police believe there were no signs of forced entry because of his ability to move around the residence.  Alonso was trusted enough that the Duplantiers allowed him to live on property they owned.  Alonso's address is listed as 4950 Nicholson Drive.

Investigators appear to believe Alonso strangled the victims after getting access to the safe then brought their bodies to a truck stop in Hammond.

In news conferences and television interviews about the case, police have released marginal information but in the arrest warrant, wrote there was blood in multiple rooms of the home on Highland Road consistent with a physical confrontation. Detectives said they used video footage from the truck stop near I-12, witness statements, evidence in the truck Alonso was found driving and license plate readers to develop Alonso as a suspect.

The vehicles were seen traveling I-12 on the evening of October 18th. 

In the arrest warrant, it appears the license plate readers tracked Alonso's moves. Police said he had been driving a white pick-up. The Duplantier's red pick-up, which was also reported missing, was tracked by the same technology. The vehicles traveled in close proximity down I-12, detectives wrote in the arrest warrant. OnStar tracking services were also used, police said in earlier reports.

Alonso was found in Hollywood, Florida, Wednesday. Police there said he was at an apartment complex a few miles from the beach. He was booked into jail on first degree murder and second degree kidnapping charges from Louisiana. Hollywood Police said Baton Rouge Police alerted them that Alonso was there and SWAT was used to apprehend him.

Police in Baton Rouge are still looking for one or two other people connected to this case.

"We are obviously looking for someone else," Baton Rouge Police Lt. Jonny Dunnam said. "The detectives working this are questioning Mr. Alonso at this point to find out who his accomplice was." Lt. Jonny Dunnam said.

Read more about what police revealed in a Wednesday morning news conference HERE.

People who knew the Duplantiers have been reluctant to share their thoughts on camera.  In off-camera interviews, people have said the couple were kind and always willing to help others.
"They were the absolute best neighbors.  Period," a neighbor who asked not to be identified said in a phone interview with a WBRZ producer Tuesday. 
Wednesday, the district attorney commented on the family.  Hillar Moore lives near the Duplantiers.
"This double homicide hit close to home, it was close to where I live," Moore said. "I knew both of these victims. I want to make sure everyone understands, although it's unique for Baton Rouge, it's no different than any other murder that occurs in 70802 or 70805...anywhere in our parish. It affects not only that victim, but generations of the families of these victims."
Authorities from Louisiana are in Florida.  They hope to bring Alonso back to Baton Rouge.  But, if he does not waive extradition, it may take a while to bring him back.  Both Louisiana and Florida would have to work together through various legal proceedings to get Alonso returned. 


Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz


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