ZACHARY, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Corrections is defending its work release program after an escapee was accused of killing a woman in Zachary.
According to Zachary Police Chief David McDavid, officers found the body of Aleshia Dixon near LA 19 and Lower Zachary Rd. A passerby spotted the victim lying in the parking lot of a storage facility.
Aleshia Dixon was originally from Woodville, Mississippi and worked at a senior care facility in Slaughter. She was 35-years-old.
Investigators believe the victim's longtime boyfriend, Alvin Dixon, Jr., stabbed her to death before stealing her car. McDavid added the two were not married and happened to share the same last name.
Alvin Dixon was an East Feliciana Parish Prison work release inmate employed at a Zachary produce stand less than a mile away from the crime scene. According to East Feliciana Parish Sheriff Jeff Travis, Dixon escaped from his job not long before the murder.
Investigators also believe Dixon jumped from the Mississippi River Bridge Saturday night. Travis says an officer saw the victim's car on the west side of the bridge, and saw a man matching Dixon's description jump. Officials are currently searching the river for a body.
Until Dixon or his body is recovered, McDavid says the suspect is considered missing. However, he says it's likely he was the man who jumped. "Right now, Mr. Dixon is our number one suspect due to evidence at the scene," said McDavid.
At the moment, investigators do not have a motive for the death, however Travis says they believe the victim often visited Dixon as his place of work.
Dixon was serving time in East Feliciana Parish Prison for theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle. The DOC says he had no record of violent crime and passed all screening required to become a work release inmate. He had been working for work release program since February and was scheduled for parole in June.
The East Feliciana Sheriff's Office says there was no indication that he would become violent. "I realize that this tragic incident will definitely invite further scrutiny of the program and that's fair," said Travis.
The chief of operations for the DOC, Seth Smith, says the work release program benefits inmates and the state. Smith says it helps eligible inmates transition back into society by providing them work and skills like money management. He also says work release inmates have a 12 percent lower recidivism rate, and called Dixon's case the "exception."
"The department is always looking for ways to improve our process and procedures. We are reviewing this case to see if improvements to the process can be made and I assure you they will," said Smith.
All the agencies involved in the case offered their condolences to Aleshia Dixon's family.