Accused armed robber linked to other crimes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 21, 1998

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / March 21, 1998

HAHNVILLE – The strange criminal odyssey of Diane Albright continues to slowly come to light as St. Charles Parish investigators probe the past ofthe accused armed robber and self-confessed killer.

Albright, 55, provided police a driver’s license giving her home address as Piketon, Ohio. However, according to Capt. Patrick Yoes of the St. CharlesSheriff’s Office, authorities there haven’t heard of her.

Indeed, Yoes continued, “Diane Albright” may not even be her real name.

She was arrested Monday following a disturbance at the Spillway Bar and later was linked to the armed robbery Sunday of a priest in Paradis.

Albright was arraigned Tuesday morning before 29th Judicial District Judge Emile St. Pierre and charged with one count of possession of stolenproperty and two counts of armed robbery. Bond was set at $800,000.During questioning by detectives, Yoes said, Albright confessed to the March 14 shooting death of John W. Menard, 59, of Duhon, a Lafayettemunicipal employee, during an attempted robbery. A first-degree murderwarrant has been issued for her arrest.

Menard had been shot in the groin and bled to death in his pickup truck, which was parked behind Parrain’s Bar near Lafayette. His body was foundthe next morning.

Albright has also been linked to an armed robbery earlier that day of a jogger in Broussard. In that case, a woman asked the man for directions,then robbed him of $40 and his wallet. The wallet was recovered when shewas arrested in Norco.

At 12:42 p.m. Sunday, Albright had reached Paradis. The Rev. JamesMoragne, 53, of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, had just eaten lunchat a nearby cafe and returned home when a 1980s-model Lincoln Continental pulled in behind him in his own garage.

The woman driver beckoned Moragne to approach her car, at which time she drew a revolver on him, said, “Father, give me your wallet,” and robbed him of $8 from his wallet.

He went into his house, obeying her orders, and she then fled in an unknown direction.

On Monday, at 9:59 a.m., a female bartender at 11533 River Road,Waggaman, went to the rest room. When she returned, she allegedlydiscovered Albright behind the bar stealing cash from the register.

According to Col. John Fortunato of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office,Albright ordered the bartender back into the rest room and stole the .38-caliber semiautomatic from the bar.

Fortunato added she confessed to this robbery as well to investigators who questioned her in Hahnville.

That same day, at noon, she allegedly walked into the Swim Plus swimwear store in Kenner and robbed the clerk of the cash register’s contents.

Later Monday, at 11:38 p.m., Glynn Weber prepared to close up the SpillwayBar in Norco when the woman at the bar asked for another beer. He refusedand she pulled a .380 revolver and demanded the beer.He wrestled the gun away from her and threw her out, then called the sheriff’s office. A Ruger .357 revolver was found on the car seat, that gunlater determined to have been stolen earlier in the day in Jefferson Parish, Yoes said. The vehicle had been reported stolen in Vidalia lateMarch 13 or early March 14.

Yoes commented Albright’s criminal history includes arrests for forgery and grand theft. He continued she is a suspect in armed robberies inJefferson Parish and in Lafayette, in the robbery of Father Moragne “and possibly more.”

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