Arrests Made In Cold Case Homicide Reported In November 1980

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RPSO – On November 05th, 1980, the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office received a complaint related to the discovery of skeletal remains near Louisiana Highway 28 West, in the Gardener area.  The complainant reported the remains were located in a wooded area near Nichols Cemetery Road.  The investigation was originally assigned to then Detective William E. Hilton.  Hilton initiated his investigation immediately, which included reviewing missing person reports from the Rapides Parish area, as well as the surrounding states.  Representatives of Louisiana State University’s Repository for Missing and Unidentified Persons, also known as “The FACES Lab” assisted with the investigation.  The Repository was able to establish the victim was a caucasian female between approximately sixteen and twenty-one years of age at the time of her death. 

It was believed the victim’s remains were exposed to the elements between approximately two months up to one or more years.  The Repository also assisted with the documentation of the victim’s DNA profile.  FACES composed a reconstruction of the victim’s skull, which provided investigators a likeness of the victim.  A photograph of the reconstruction was later placed on the repository’s website.  Over the years it would be shared on many other web based sites, along with social media sites.        

As time progressed, the case became cold.  It was reviewed by several detectives at the sheriff’s office, but remained unsolved.  In 2014, the sheriff’s office received information in reference to the case.  Detectives furthered their investigation which resulted in Leo Laird, 64 and Gary Joseph Haymon, 54, both of Oakdale being identified as suspects.

In July 2019, the sheriff’s office received information relating to the identity of the victim.  With the assistance of the FACES and Louisiana State Police Crime Labs, DNA testing identified the victim as Donna Gayle Brazzell.  Donna was approximately eighteen years of age at the time of her death and had been residing in the Alexandria/Pineville area.  Sufficient probable cause was established which resulted in warrants being granted for Laird’s and Haymon’s arrest in reference to First Degree Murder, First Degree Rape, and Aggravated Kidnapping.

On August 14th, Laird was taken into custody without incident and booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center where he remains.  Bonds were set in reference to the charges of First Degree Rape, and Aggravated Kidnapping totaling $1,000,000.00.  Bonds have yet to be set in reference to the charge of First Degree Murder.

Haymon is currently in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections in reference to convictions relating to Second Degree Kidnapping, First Degree Robbery, and Public Bribery.  Haymon is currently serving a forty-nine year sentence and is currently projected to be released in 2047.  Arrangements are in place to have Haymon booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center in reference to his new charges.        

Detectives state their investigation is still ongoing and additional charges may be filed.

Arrestee:
Leo Laird, 64
1606 Louisiana Highway 10 Oakdale, La.

Charges:
First Degree Murder
First Degree Rape
Aggravated Kidnapping

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Arrestee:
Gary Joseph Haymon, 54
278 Dovie Laird Road Oakdale, La.

Charges:
First Degree Murder
First Degree Rape
Aggravated Kidnapping

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