Inside the house, the gunmen asked two women if either of them were the rape victim. When one woman said she was, they fatally shot her, police said. Before leaving, they allegedly shot and killed her neighbor, too.
But neither woman was the intended target, police said at a Monday news conference.
Instead, police said the hit men had fatally shot 34-year-old Brittany Cormier — the sister of Beaux Cormier, the man who allegedly hired the pair. Police identified the other woman killed as her neighbor, Hope Nettleton, 37.
Police praised Brittany Cormier for intentionally claiming to be the victim in an attempt to protect the woman accusing her brother of rape.
“Brittany Cormier tells the shooter she’s the rape victim, accepting her fate to save the life of an actual victim,” Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Tim Soignet said Monday.
On Friday, authorities charged Beaux Cormier, 35, and the two alleged gunmen, Andrew Eskine and Dalvin Wilson, with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the women’s deaths. Both Eskine and Wilson confessed to killing both women, police said.
Attorneys for Eskine, 25, Wilson, 22, and Beaux Cormier were not available as of early Tuesday morning.
Beaux Cormier, a convicted sex offender, was arrested and charged with raping a family member in March 2020, police said. He later contacted Eskine and Wilson, offering to pay them to kill the victim, who was expected to testify in his case, according to authorities.
“Beaux hired basically Andrew Eskine and Dalvin Wilson to murder the rape victim so she could not testify,” Soignet said.
The three men traveled to the victim’s home in Montegut last year to conduct surveillance, Soignet said, and then in November, Eskine and Wilson returned alone to try to kill the woman.
But they failed in that attempt, police said, so they returned to Montegut, a town of nearly 2,000 people about 70 miles southwest of New Orleans, on Jan. 13.
That evening, when both men rushed into the home, they found Brittany Cormier and Nettleton, and three other people inside, police said.
Brittany Cormier’s children remained hidden in a closet while their mother confronted the gunmen, the Acadiana Advocate reported.
“Maybe they hid in the closet because they were scared but I like to think she locked them in the closet to protect them,” Samantha LeMaire, a close friend, told the Advocate.
As Brittany Cormier was killed, Nettleton was shot while struggling with the men, police said. Police arrived around 10:20 p.m. and discovered both victims, who were pronounced dead at the scene.
“They were good people that ended up dying as a result,” Soignet said. “This really hit that community hard.”
It is unclear whether the rape victim was present at the time of the shootings, but police at the Monday news conference confirmed that she is alive. Authorities also declined to confirm Brittany and Beaux Cormier’s relationship, but her family identified Beaux as her brother in an obituary.
The three men were each given a bond of $2 million, and are being held at Terrebonne Parish Criminal Justice Complex, according to Terrebonne Parish District Attorney Joseph L. Waitz Jr.
“The death penalty is absolutely on the table,” Waitz said Monday.