St. John murder case widens

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Although the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office recently arrested a seventh LaPlace man in connection with the Nov. 6 murder of 22-year-old Jerry Butler, their work is far from over. Law enforcement officials are actively searching for two additional suspects believed to be involved in the execution-style killing.

Joseph A. Campbell, 19, of 1504 Glendale Drive, accompanied by his parents and an attorney, surrendered to authorities on Nov. 23 at 6:12 p.m., said Maj. Robert Hay, Chief of the Bureau of Investigations Division.

Campbell was charged with principal to first-degree murder and remains in the Sherman Walker Correctional Center, along with six men previously arrested in the case.

Campbell lived with his older brother, Kevin Campbell, who was also arrested in the incident.

Dauren Howard, Denyen Gaines, Frank Williamson, Kevin Campbell and Ryan Triche were arrested on Nov. 18.

Howard was charged with first-degree murder, while Gaines, Williamson and Campbell were charged with principal to first-degree murder and obstruction of justice. Triche was charged with obstruction of justice and being an accessory after the fact.

On Nov. 19, Quentin Lewis was arrested and charged with principal to first-degree murder, obstruction of justice, simple assault and contempt of court.

A Nov. 5 quarrel over a handgun is the motive for Butler’s murder.

Butler argued with Lewis, Howard, Gaines, Williamson, Triche and Kevin Campbell before fleeing the home of Williamson and Gaines on Arlington Drive.

All six men pursued Butler in a car driven by Triche.

Joseph Campbell did not participate in the Friday night argument.

“Statements from co-defendants place Campbell in the (337 Arlington Drive) home and contest to him having had hands on participation in the beating (of Butler),” said Hay.

According to Hay, Joseph Campbell, Kevin Campbell, Lewis, Gaines and Williamson brutally beat Butler on Nov. 6 in Gaines and Williamson’s home at 337 Arlington Drive.

“He participated in the assault but he did not help dump the body,” said Hay.

Butler was placed in the trunk of a 1995 Chevrolet Luma, driven by Lewis, and transported to the Mississippi River Levee in Reserve – where he was thrown on the ground and shot twice in the head by Howard.

Kevin Campbell, Gaines and Williamson accompanied Howard and Lewis to the levee.

Hay said, “We questioned Campbell earlier in our investigation. We questioned him simultaneously to our obtaining a search warrant to search the house (on 337 Arlington Drive.) We questioned him but released him.”

According to Hay, Campbell surrendered with an attorney present and he was non-cooperative.

Judge Mary Hotard Becnel set Triche’s bond at $300,000, Howard was denied bond and the remaining men are waiting for their bonds to be set, said Hay.

Six of the seven men arrested have prior records.

Campbell’s criminal history includes charges for theft, simple battery and traffic violations, according to Public Information Officer Sgt. Dane Clement.

Hay would not release the names of two individuals authorities are searching for in connection with the crime. However, he did say authorities secured a search warrant which allowed them to secure DNA trace evidence found inside the 1995 Chevrolet Luma.

“We are submitting the evidence secured from the automobile to the Louisiana criminalistic Laboratory for DNA and other forensic analysis. We expect to receive results within the next few weeks,” said Hay.