A Cold Case Being Investigated By The LCPD
By Brad Goins • Photos Courtesy Of The Breaux Family And The LCPD
The call reporting a house on fire came in to the Lake Charles Police Dept. at 3:37 am on a Sunday morning in March, 1987.
The fire had been sighted in a house on Warren Street — a small street in a quiet residential neighborhood near the intersection of Alamo and Enterprise. Because the house was so close to the main LCPD station at Enterprise and Broad, police were at the scene in four minutes.
Detective Keith Holland and Capt. Carl Cascio found Noah Breaux, a 75-year-old white male, lying face-up in the interior of the house. At first, police assumed Breaux had died as a result of the fire, which had been extinguished after it burned much of the hallway where Breaux lay, along with the adjacent bedroom.
While the fire damaged Breaux’s body, it didn’t disfigure it entirely. At first, police hadn’t been greatly concerned about blood near Breaux’s body, as fire causes the skin to bleed. But when a coroner arrived on the scene and examined the body, he found that Breaux had sustained a head wound.
Further examination in the morgue determined that Breaux had been the victim of blunt force trauma.
The incident became even more suspicious when an investigation by the state fire marshal revealed that the fire around Breaux had been spread by an accelerant — some fuel such as gasoline. The investigator found that there were “flammable liquid pour patterns” in the area around the body. An assailant had tried — with limited success — to hide the nature of his crime.
Could robbery have been the motive for the mysterious early morning murder? The darkness, the smoke and the fact that the fire had short-circuited the house’s electricity made the initial investigation a challenge. But police eventually determined there was no evidence of furniture being overturned; of large objects being disturbed or of a struggle.
As far as anyone knew, Noah Breaux lived the quiet, simple life of a 75-year-old widower. He lost his wife the year before his death.
During his career, he’d been an award-winning longshoreman.
He had the reputation of being a loving grandfather; a devoted family man and a quiet person.
It’s especially hard to imagine a motive for the murder of such an individual. Could a criminal have chosen Breaux’s house precisely because it was located in a quiet, sparsely traveled neighborhood, and the time of night guaranteed that no one would be out and about?
Was the house simply chosen at random as an arbitrary location for a robbery or an act of violence? If Breaux was just a random victim of robbery, how does one account for the ferocity of the attack that killed him? (The coroner found significant fractures in Breaux’s skull.)
The Elusive Motive
Because a sensible motive is so hard to imagine in this case, it’s all the more important that individuals come forward if they remember being told about, or overhearing discussion of, what happened in that quiet house in mid-town Lake Charles in the early morning darkness.
As always, the LCPD hopes that this report of the event will instill a sense of guilt or obligation in someone who knows some crucial piece of information about the case. As the event took place 30 years ago, those who know something about it may now be quite advanced in age. They may feel that now is the time to come forward if they don’t want to take to the grave information that could bring relief to Breaux’s remaining children and grandchildren.
The LPCD is highly motivated to vigorously pursue the present investigation of this cold case. Members of the coroner’s office and other technicians will be reevaluating materials from the murder scene with technology that didn’t exist in 1987, using DNA analysis and other technologies that have been developed in the last three decades.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information leading to the capture of the perpetrator in this case.
If you have any information that you feel might have a bearing on the case, contact the Lake Charles Police Dept.
The Cold Case Series is the result of an ongoing collaborative effort between the Lake Charles Police Dept. and Lagniappe Magazine.