Authorities arrest second suspect in murder of Baton Rouge couple

Ernesto Alonso (Source: Broward County Sheriff's Office)
Ernesto Alonso (Source: Broward County Sheriff's Office)
Denis and Suzanne Duplantier (Source: Facebook)
Denis and Suzanne Duplantier (Source: Facebook)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A second suspect in the murder of a Baton Rouge couple has been arrested in Hollywood, Florida.

Frank Garcia, 48, was taken into custody by the Hollywood Police Department on Wednesday. He faces two counts of first-degree murder and will await an extradition hearing.

His arrest warrant said investigators linked Garcia to the kidnapping and murders of Denis Duplantier, 71, and his wife, Suzanne, 70, after police say they found some of the stolen items at his Hollywood, Florida home.

Investigators also say they found a vehicle registered to Garcia and license plate trackers show the vehicle coming into Baton Rouge on October 17 and leaving the Capital City the next day, the time of the murders.

"They had information that he was in Baton Rouge at the time the crime occurred through cell phone records and information they obtained through license plate reader," said BRPD's Lt. Jonny Dunnam.

The couple was found bound and dead in their truck that was parked at a truck stop in Hammond late in the evening on October 19. Their home on Highland Road had been broken into and officials say a large amount of money was missing out of the safe.

Ernesto Alonso, 42, of Baton Rouge, was arrested in October in connection with the case. He faces first-degree murder and kidnapping charges in the Duplantiers' deaths. He fought extradition and is still in Florida.

Investigators said Alonso worked for the Duplantiers, even lived on their property and the couple had just bought him a truck. He also has a home in Florida, which is where police found Garcia. According to police, Alonso likely bound and beat them until they opened the safe in their home, which contained a large amount of money.

"There may possibly be others involved so we don't want to speculate on his (Garcia's) role," said Lt. Dunnam.

While police continue their investigation, District Attorney Hillar Moore awaits word on extradition for both suspects to get back to Louisiana. Garcia's initial court appearance is scheduled for Monday and he can voluntarily waive extradition. However, Garcia is also expected to fight extradition.

"He's going to follow the same procedure where he's going to have 30 days or so to contest extradition and we're in the process now of getting a governor's warrant from here to the governor's office in Florida to follow the same procedure," said Moore.

Alonso was supposed to be back in court Thursday morning for his second extradition hearing, but that was cancelled. He has until midnight Friday to file paperwork to formally fight extradition.

"If Alonso does not file documents today (Thursday) with the court to contest extradition by midnight, I understand that the court there will put him on the docket tomorrow, and the judge hopefully will then order his return to Baton Rouge," said Moore.

Prosecutors say when both men do finally get back in Louisiana, they have not ruled out pursuing the death penalty.

"It's one that I think is particularly egregious despite not having the bodies at the scene. It's one of the worst I've seen. I've been doing this 40 years. They're all bad. They're all bad to somebody just to different degrees, but this is one the death penalty could truly be an appropriate decision," said Moore.

"It was a horrible situation and we feel like that this homicide as well as all the other homicides in Baton Rouge are horrible situations. We do our best to investigate all of them," said Lt. Dunnam.

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