A south Louisiana sex offender who hired two men to kill the niece he was accused of raping got a nasty surprise when the alleged shooter instead gunned down his sister and the sister’s neighbor.
Brittany Jane Cormier, 34, and Hope Danos Nettleton, 37, were slain Jan. 13 in Cormier’s home in Montegut, a small Cajun community of about 2,000 people just over 80 miles southwest of New Orleans. Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Tim Soignet said at a news conference Monday that Cormier died protecting the victim her brother was accused of raping last March.
The gunman asked for the rape victim by name, the sheriff said. Cormier told him she was the woman, at which point she was fatally shot.
“Brittany Cormier tells the shooter she’s the rape victim, accepting her fate to save the life of (the) victim,” Soignet said.
Nettleton died as she fought off the gunman who had just killed her friend, he said.
“They were good people that ended up dying as a result,” Soignet said.
Detectives have charged Beaux Andrew Cormier, 35, of Kaplan, and the two alleged hitmen, Andrew James Eskine, 25, of Carencro, and Dalvin Montae Wilson, 22, of Eunice, with two counts each of first-degree murder. Eskine is also being held on a probation and parole detainer, Terrebonne Parish Jail records show.
Cormier and Wilson are each being held in lieu of $2 million bail. Eskine is being held without bond due to the probation hold.
Though authorities withheld the nature of the Cormiers’ relationship to one another to protect the alleged rape victim, Brittany Cormier’s obituary named Beaux Cormier as her brother.
He also served as a pallbearer at her Jan. 21 funeral, the obituary stated.
Two of Brittany Cormier’s children were hiding in a closet during the homicides. Neither was injured in the shooting.
Another witness present at the time of the shooting was able to give details of the suspect and the getaway vehicle that helped investigators break the case.
A dangerous sex offender
Soignet said Monday that his detectives were called the night of Jan. 13 to Brittany Cormier’s home, where they found both her and Nettleton dead of gunshot wounds. The subsequent investigation led to the rape allegations, which the sheriff’s deputies saw as a powerful motive.
Beaux Cormier, who was already a convicted sex offender, was accused in March of sexually assaulting his niece in Vermillion Parish, where he lives. The young woman was expected to testify against him at his pending trial on a third-degree rape charge.
Terrebonne Parish detectives learned that Beaux Cormier had approached his friends, Eskine and Wilson, with a plea for their help.
“Beaux hired, basically, Andrew Eskine and Dalvin Wilson to murder the rape victim so she could not testify,” Soignet said.
Beaux Cormier paid both men to carry out the homicide, the sheriff said. Authorities in both Vermillion and Lafayette parishes were integral to solving the double homicide.
“It’s all gone west since we started investigating this case,” Soignet told the Advocate. “We knew there was a pending, pretty solid rape case there, which provided motive.”
The three men had traveled more than 100 miles to Montegut sometime between July and November to conduct surveillance on the victim’s home. Eskine and Wilson returned to Montegut in November to commit the crime, but that attempt was unsuccessful, Soignet said.
Erskine, who was out of town for work, missed Wilson’s lethal attempt on Jan. 13. He was responsible, however, for providing his truck as the getaway vehicle and helping to plan the crime, the sheriff said.
When questioned, both Erskine and Wilson admitted their roles in the double killing, Soignet said. They named Beaux Cormier as the person who had paid them to kill his niece.
In Louisiana, anyone convicted of first-degree murder faces a mandatory sentence of either life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Terrebonne Parish District Attorney Joseph L. Waitz Jr. said Beaux Cormier, Eskine and Wilson will face the harshest sentence.
“The death penalty is absolutely on the table,” Waitz said.
Soignet said double homicides are few and far between in Terrebonne Parish, particularly in a small community like Montegut.
“People are very close over there,” he said. “This really hit that community hard. We worked really hard so we could bring peace to the families and the community down in Montegut.”