Phillip Dewoody, accused in two recent kidnappings, has a juvenile criminal record that includes homicide, St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz says.
"This individual, Phillip Dewoody, is a dangerous, violent repeat offender, and I think the parole board should take a different look at people who come up for parole with records like this," Guidroz told us. "This person killed a 13-year-old girl when he was 12. He's committed 3 or 4 armed robberies, he's committed rapes, kidnapping, aggravated escape. This guy's got a record a mile long and he's paroled. There's something wrong with that picture."
That information comes from trusted law enforcement sources, according to the sheriff.
Guidroz says he's testified at parole hearings for prisoners who committed one crime and turned their lives around. He said he doesn't believe Dewoody fits that criteria.
Dewoody currently is accused of aggravated kidnapping in the disappearance of Joyce Thomas, a deaf woman from Ville Platte whose body was found in St. Landry Parish on Monday, and of second-degree kidnapping of an Opelousas woman who survived.
Dewoody does have a lengthy adult criminal record, and was released 91 years early by the Louisiana Parole Board last summer. He has convictions for armed robbery, aggravated escape and kidnapping, accused of using a homemade knife to kidnap a female prison guard during an escape. At the time of his arrest following the 1993 escape, a Lincoln Parish law enforcement official alleged that Dewoody had kidnapped and raped an elderly woman while on the lam. He's never been convicted of that.
Despite sentences that judges ordered to be served without benefit of parole, Dewoody was eligible for parole in 2013 under Act 790, a Louisiana law that makes prisoners eligible to be considered for parole once they are older than 45 years old, and have served a certain percentage of their sentence - based on whether it was their first or second felony conviction.
After Dewoody became eligible, the law was amended to exclude prisoners who were convicted of certain crimes, including the kidnapping charge. But because the law wasn't amended until after he became eligible, the change did not impact his eligibility.
Parole eligibility does not require the parole board to grant parole; it just means the prisoner is eligible and can request parole from the board. Records show that Dewoody requested parole two times before it was granted last summer.
Yesterday, Opelousas Police asked any other victims to come forward. Last night, we spoke to another family whose loved one was involved with Dewoody and has questions about her death.