Iberville Parish makes arrest in 25-year-old cold case

Iberville Parish makes arrest in cold case 25 years old - 5 p.m.
Tommy Francise (Source: Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office)
Tommy Francise (Source: Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office)
Curtis "Cochise" Smith
Curtis "Cochise" Smith
George Barrett Jr.
George Barrett Jr.

IBERVILLE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office made an arrest in a cold case dating back to 1991.

Sheriff Brett Stassi said 61-year-old Tommy Francise, of Plaquemine, was arrested in Lafayette around 4 a.m. Thursday as a fugitive from justice.

Francise was then taken to Iberville Parish and booked on two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Curtis "Cochise" Smith in 1991 and George Barrett Jr. in 2002.

Barrett's body was found inside his own home shot twice in the head in 2002.

Smith's body has never been found. In February 1991, detectives said he was shot and stuffed in a barrel, holes poked in that barrel with water filled in it and then tossed in a bayou.

"I still think about him. I got a picture of him," said Smith's son Gerald, who was only five years old when his dad was killed.

"[Smith's parents] died trying to find their son. Went to their grave worried about where their child is at. They knew he was dead. They just wanted his body," said Smith's sister Chrisanne Georgetown.

Till this day, detectives have not found that barrel or Smith's body, but lead prosecutor Tony Clayton said their own scientific analysis is what they will use in court along with other evidence they have.

"So we put flesh, weight, drilled holes in the barrel, dropped it and waited seven days and the barrel was not where we dropped it off. We found out through scientific evidence that flesh creates gas, the gas caused it to bubble up and it floated down," Clayton said.

Meaning that barrel could be anywhere.

Along with the tireless work of Iberville deputies, the TV series "Killing Fields" gets some of the credit it helping solve the decades-old cold case.

"These guys brought in some of the latest sonar equipment to scan the bodies of water around Bayou Pigeon," Clayton said.

"The Discovery Channel brings some resources to Iberville Parish that was not in existence back in 1991," Stassi said.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Francise faces a mandatory life sentence.


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