April 02, 2002
No Suspect Yet in 12-year-old's Killing - Experts Work on Scientific Evidence in Hathaway Case
by Todd Billiot
JENNINGS - Authorities said Monday that they do not have a suspect in Thursday's abduction and killing of Holli Thibodeaux. But 50 FBI agents and sheriff's detectives are following up more than 300 tips.
Officials are counting on tips from the public, expert analysis of evidence, and new interviews of witnesses to identify a suspect. A preliminary report on the cause of Thibodeaux's death should released this week, said Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff Ricky Edwards Jr.
"We still need information from anybody who remotely thinks they saw something," said FBI Assistant Special Agent Julian Gonzales.
While FBI agents and sheriff's detectives follow up every lead they receive, the girl's relatives and friends are mourning. A wake was held Monday. Her funeral is at 2 p.m. today at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Raymond.
Thibodeaux was abducted while riding her bike near the mobile home park where she lived with her mother and older sister. She was found dead in a nearby gully Friday afternoon. Hathaway, surrounded by rice fields and crawfish ponds, is a small community of about 500 people north of Jennings.
Law enforcement officials across the nation are searching for Thibodeaux's abductor, described by a young witness as a white man with dirty blond hair and blue eyes, driving a light blue, full-size pickup with a silver tool box in the back. Officials released a sketch of the man's face and a picture of a truck that is similar to the one driven by the man.
Authorities want to speak to the driver of a red Ford Ranger pickup who stopped to allow the suspect's truck to pull out onto La. 26, Gonzales said.
Gonzales said FBI agents are reviewing reports to look for clues, and an expert will interview Thibodeaux's friend again. She is the only reported witness to the abduction.
In addition, evidence taken at the scene of the abduction and the site where Thibodeaux's body was found was flown to Washington for DNA and other analysis, Gonzales said.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is expected to release information about the case along the Interstate 10 corridor between Jacksonville, Fla., and Houston, and north to Little Rock, Ark., Gonzales said. All FBI field offices also have been given information about the case, he said.
Edwards also said he hopes a relative, wife or girlfriend of the suspect will turn him in, Edwards said.
"We're close (to identifying a suspect) in the sense that we're getting better leads than before," said Gonzales.
Knowing the suspect is still at large, parents in Jefferson Davis Parish said they are scared to allow their children out of their sight.
"I have them with me," Sheila Thibodeaux, Jennings, said about her three young children. "I won't let them outside. I think it's horrible that someone can walk up and take your prize possession."
Gonzales and Edwards both said their best advice for parents is to know where your children are at all times.
If you have information about the death of 12-year-old Holli Thibodeaux, call authorities in Jennings at 1-800-654-0269.
Authorities are searching for a white man with dirty blond hair. He is 6 feet tall. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and blue jean shorts. He was driving a full-size, light blue pickup with a silver tool box in the back.