HOUMA — Detectives say they have solved the murder of a woman whose nude body was found tied to a cinder block and partially submerged in a Cocodrie waterway more than 30 years ago.
Ricky D. Brown, 54, of Vinemont, Ala., was arrested Wednesday and charged with the murder of Edith McElroy West, Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Vernon Bourgeois said.
West, 22, also of Alabama, was found in a canal off Bayou Sale Road on Sept. 27, 1980, with a cinder block tied around her neck, police said.
Terrebonne sheriff's detective Dawn Foret said West's cause of death was drowning.
Brown was questioned at the time but there was insufficient evidence to link him to the crime.
Investigators reopened the case earlier this year. In re-questioning witnesses, detectives got enough information to obtain an arrest warrant for Brown, police said.
Detectives are releasing sketchy information, saying they don't want to jeopardize the prosecution.
Brown is being held at the Cullman County jail in Alabama. It is not yet known whether he will fight extradition to Louisiana.
Police have not yet located any living relatives for West, Foret said.
Authorities in Cullman County said Brown has not been booked into that jail before and they were unsure if he is employed.
Godfrey Buquet, a retired chief detective from the Terrebonne Sheriff's Office, recalls working the case when Ronnie Duplantis was sheriff.
“It was a pretty big deal,” he said of the crime. “We didn't have murders in those days like today. In those days you might have had three murders a year.”
Buquet recalled that West and Brown were among a group of visiting motorcyclists.
A man who answered the phone at Brown's home, situated on a desolate country road in north-central Alabama, would not identify himself but acknowledged he is a relative.
“I've said all I am going to say,” the man said. “Now just shut up.”