(Johnathan Manning / American Press)
Leo P. Thibodeaux, Jr.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 08, 2013 3:18 PM
A DeQuincy man was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in the March 2012 death of his live-in girlfriend, authorities said.
Leo P. Thibodeaux, Jr., 53, 4190 Edgerly-DeQuincy Highway, originally reported the death of Toni Marie Frabbiele, 37, as a suicide, Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
After an investigation that lasted more than a year, Frabbiele’s death was ruled a homicide and Thibodeaux was arrested around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Sheriff said.
Thibodeaux is charged with second-degree murder and is being held on $1 million bond set by Judge David Ritchie, Mancuso said.
Detectives used autopsy results and a blood splatter study to reach a conclusion of homicide, Mancuso said.
Coroner Terry Welke said Frabbiele was shot twice in the head — the first shot incapacitated or killed her and the second is believed to have been done to make the death look like a suicide.
“We feel like she was incapable of doing that herself,” Mancuso said. “As I say that, there have been times where it was a suicide and the person was shot multiple times.”
Welke turned his report over to the sheriff’s office last week, Mancuso said.
“Zeb Johnson and I have been doing this for 27 years, or longer, and we’ve had a case where an individual shot themselves in the head five times before they finally died,” Welke said. “To call something a suicide initially at times can be a knee-jerk reaction and in this particular instance things were a little bit more complicated and it took a little bit longer for the resolution to occur.”
Mancuso said his office requested help with blood splatter analysis from Col. Tim Scanlin, a crime scene reconstruction examiner with the Jefferson Parish crime lab.
“I believe detectives were suspicious from the beginning, it just took a long time to formulate how we got to this point,” Mancuso said.
“We certainly don’t want to accuse somebody wrongly and so we made sure we got all the evidence together and put our heads together and came up with the right conclusion.”
Thibodeaux was arrested on a domestic violence charge involving Frabbiele in February 2012, according to reports in March 2012.
When deputies responded to his home around 3 a.m. on March 28, 2012, Frabbiele was on the floor of a bedroom unresponsive, Mancuso said.
She was later pronounced dead at the scene, he said.
Thibodeaux told detectives Frabbiele committed suicide in his presence, Kim Myers, CPSO spokeswoman, said.
At the time, the death was reported as suspicious.
Detectives “pretty quickly” began to suspect a homicide had occurred, Mancuso said.
“We got to looking at the situation, there had been instances of domestic abuse at that residence, so it kind of raised a red flag a little bit more for us,” Mancuso said.
Scott Higginbotham, a spokesman for Frabbiele’s family, said the family did not wish to speak.
“The family of Tony Frabbiele is very appreciative for the relentless hard work and tenacity of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s department,” Higginbotham said in a statement he read for reporters. “The family is also pleased that an arrest has been made in Tony Frabbiele’s case. The family asks that their privacy be respected during this challenging time and as the case progresses through the judicial system.”