Inmate found hanged in Calcasieu jail

Posted at 10:59 AM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 11:59:07-04

Calcasieu Parish deputies are investigating the death of an inmate at the parish prison. 

Blake Russell, 32, was found hanging in his cell at about 5 a.m. Thursday, a spokeswoman said. 

Russell had been incarcerated since July 2017, when he was arrested and accused of second-degree murder in the 2009 death of Sierra Bouzigard. 

Cause of death is unknown at this time but foul play is not suspected, the spokeswoman said.  The investigation is continuing.

Russell’s arrest was the subject of a press conference last year, because the Bouzigard case had been cold since her slaying. 

The Sheriff’s Office said that DNA tied Russell to Bouzigard’s death. 

She was 19 when she died; her body was found on the side of the road in Moss Bluff. Deputies followed all leads but couldn’t nail down a suspect, so DNA found on her body was sent to a company that creates a picture and profile of the suspect. The DNA also was put into CODIS, deputies said at the time, but no matches turned up. 

But the DNA profile company did help. At the time Sheriff Tony Mancuso said, “This new technology is very exciting for us.  All along we have been focusing on a Hispanic male because that is the direction our evidence took us.  Now we know it is a white male, with fair/very fair skin, green or blues eyes and brown/black hair so now our investigation will move in a different direction thanks to this profile.  Not only does it give us characteristics of a suspect, it also helps us to eliminate certain factions of the population as suspects.”

Mancuso says his was the first law enforcement agency in the State of Louisiana to use the technology.

Then, in June 2017, more leads led detectives to Russell, who was living in DeQuincy at the time. They did surveillance on him for weeks, and got his DNA from some trash he threw away. 

The Southwest LA Regional Crime Lab allegedly matched the DNA from the object to the DNA recovered on Bouzigard’s body, and Russell was arrested. 

CPSO Detective Mark Clark and Lt. Beth McGee were the lead investigators on the case.

Russell’s bond initially had been set at $2 million, but in October, a request by his attorney was granted and his bond was reduced to $500,000.