KEITHVILLE, LA (KSLA) – The Luttrell's next door neighbors confirm to KSLA News 12 that last Sunday's (7/25/10) homicide was not the first sign of trouble at the house in Keithville. Those neighbors say they can recall two episodes that raised red flags to them.
In fact, one of those episodes involved one of the three suspects now in custody, the housekeeper who lived on the property with Ernest and Loretta Luttrell. Longtime neighbor Shirley Harris told us, "I know they had problems with her stealing from them beforehand and I knew Ernest wasn't happy with her."
Harris was referring to Tina VanMoerkerque. And all that happened long before last weekend. Now she's accused of helping hire the alleged triggerman, Erick Crain, to carry out the murder-for-hire plot against her 73-year year old landlord and employer, Ernest Luttrell.
Harris recalled that previous episode back in January involving VanMoerkerkerque. "She stole one of her (Loretta Luttrell) debit cards and went to California on it," said Harris. The Caddo Sheriff's Office confirms that a complaint was filed but later dropped.
Before that, Shirley Harris remembered a robbery that happened about five years ago. "My husband heard gunshots and he come down went down the driveway with his gun to see what was going on."
Just then David Harris spotted someone running across the field who turned out to be a nephew of the Luttrell family. "And he says, 'I'm chasing somebody that, that just robbed my uncle's house."
But Harris added that the nephew didn't know which direction the robbers took. "Anyhow, later we found out he was, he was the one setting it up. He robbed the house and he was setting up his, he was helping you know."
As for last weekend's murder, Harris says she doubts Loretta Luttrell could be the mastermind behind it because of her reported Alzheimer's. "I felt like they probably said, you know, 'he's not doing you right, this, that. You want this to go on?' or something and she answered yes without thinking and, or without knowing what she was saying yes to, and it just all went to heck in a hand basket."
Harris added that Loretta Luttrell did not even recognize her or her husband at Thursday's (7/29/10) funeral service because of the reported Alzheimer's. She said her husband agrees. They've been neighbors for 20-years.
The victim's family will get their first chance to grieve on Saturday, July 31st, two days after the funeral of 73-year old Ernest Luttrell and six days after his murder. A special memorial service will be held at Brookwood Baptist Church in Shreveport at 10 a.m.