Cold Case: 2 suspects arrested in 28-year-old murder case

Gary Kergan
Gary Kergan
Dalton Dunnagan
Dalton Dunnagan
Leila Mulla
Leila Mulla

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - More than 1,400 miles apart and almost three decades since a murder, they thought they got away with it, but Leila Mulla, 47, and Ronald Dalton Dunnagan, 64, are behind bars.

"To me, it's as alive as it was the day it happened," said victim Gary Kergan's brother Ted Kergan.

November 29, 1984: it's a date etched in Ted Kergan's mind. Ted had spoken with his brother the night before. Least did he know, it would be the last time he heard from him.

Gary was last seen leaving what used to be the "Night Spot Lounge" on Plank Road with an exotic dancer, Mulla. But when Kergan's wife had not heard from him, she called Ted.  Her tone, he said, gave away everything.

"She felt like there was something seriously was wrong," said Ted Kergan.

Kergan and his car were missing. Detectives said his car was found abandoned in Metairie with puddles of blood in the trunk. While police launched an extensive search for Kergan, his brother was leaving no stone unturned keeping every newspaper clipping of his older brother's case, some dating back to 1984. Till this day, Kergan's body has not been found.

"You know, it's like getting injected with the worst emotion you could possibly ever have," said Ted. "It's just this horrible feeling of dread that comes over and it just doesn't go away. For me, it was like waking up and stepping through a portal of the worst thing that could possibly happen, and my entire life changed in a millisecond."

More than 28 years ago, police said the suspects lived in an apartment on Byron Street in North Baton Rouge, and they believe that's where Gary Kergan was killed. Inside that apartment, officers found evidence of a violent struggle and bloodstains, but that's not all. The search for the suspects led detectives to Las Vegas.

After searching the Vegas apartment, detectives found a diary that belonged to Mulla. In it, cold case detective John Dauthier said they found entries with plans to kill Kergan.

"It became quiet clear to investigators that the homicide of Gary Kergan was not just not an unfortunate random act, but was most likely a planned event," said Dauthier.

It's what led police in December of 1984 to arrest Mulla and her then boyfriend Dunnagan. But prosecutors dropped the case saying there wasn't enough evidence.

28 years later, using DNA technology, detectives were able to match the blood found in the trunk to Kergan's family once again linking Mulla and Dunnagan to the murder. From there, the search for the two was on.

"Ronald Dunnagan was located living just outside Bossier City, La. Leila Mulla was located living in an apartment in Astoria, NY," said Dauthier.

Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White said this is the first case that's come full circle since the cold case division launched in March.

"I couldn't be more pleased because for 28 years, these people have lived freely among society," said Chief White.

Kergan's family has spent nearly three decades trying to find some answers and closure, and Ted Kergan says this news begins that process.

"My brother is reaching beyond the grave and making them accountable for what they did to him," said Kergan. "He was my brother by chance. He was my friend by choice, and I really miss him."

Both Dunnagan and Mulla are in custody.  Dunnagan is in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.  Authorities are working to have Mulla returned to Louisiana.

District Attorney Hillar Moore told 9News he hopes to take the cases before the Grand Jury.

Both are charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Simply Robbery. Dunnagan faces a 1st degree murder charge while Mulla faces a 2nd degree murder.

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