Arrest made in recent theft at Whitney Plantation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 4, 2012



LAPLACE – An Edgard man was booked with possession of stolen things in connection with one of two recent burglaries at Whitney Plantation, according to authorities with the St. John Sheriff’s Office.

Ashton Shepard, 23, was arrested Tuesday afternoon at his home in Edgard, said Capt. Dane Clement, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office. Shepard was released Wednesday after paying a $750 cash bond.

Clement said Shepard was found to be in possession of unspecified property stolen from Whitney Plantation in Wallace during two burglaries in late December and early January.

According to a release from the Sheriff’s Office, the first break-in occurred Dec. 23 when a garage on the property was broken into and copper wire and a .22-caliber rifle were stolen. In the second incident, which occurred Jan. 4, entry was made into a stone shop, where a computer was stolen. A wood shop was also broken into, where the thieves stole assorted tools including two chainsaws, a workbench and a golf cart. Clement said the suspects also cut wires to various machines and removed batteries from other equipment.

Whitney Plantation owner John J. Cummings III, who is working to restore the home and adjacent property so it can eventually be opened to the public, said the burglaries at the plantation are among several other recent burglaries on the west bank. He said many residents are working together to narrow down suspects.

“The Sheriff’s Office investigation has been very meticulous,” Cummings said. “There has been a great deal of cooperation with residents. I think it is a group of suspects, and I am convinced they will all be apprehended soon. People are scared over here, and they want to help.”

Cummings said he and other employees at the plantation were able to track down a golf cart stolen in the second burglary, but other items have yet to be recovered. Clement said the incidents are still under investigation and more arrests are possible.

Whitney Plantation was founded by Ambrose Haydel, a German who immigrated to Louisiana with his mother and siblings in 1721. According to the home’s website, Haydel and his wife may have lived on the Whitney land tract as early as 1750. By the end of the 18th century, Haydel’s sons, Jean Jacques and Nicholas, owned adjoining plantations, which included and expanded upon their father’s original holdings. It was apparently Jean Jacques who built the Whitney main house around 1790 and expanded it around 1803.