On January 1, 2008, Larkie Toups, a resident of Lafourche Parish, was in Bogalusa to visit with friends. Toups was 46 years old at the time. After a period of drinking at a friend’s house, Toups became disoriented and wandered away from the residence. A former Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy encountered Toups and transported him to the Budget Inn. Once Toups was secure inside the room., the deputy left. That was the last time anyone, other than suspects in his disappearance and murder, reported seeing him alive.
Toups disappearance and suspected murder was investigated first by the Sheriff’s Office and then by the Bogalusa Police Department for approximately one year. With no results, the case became a “cold case” and no further action was taken.
In September 2013, the Sheriff’s Office officially re-opened the case under the supervision of Detective Captain Tommie Sorrell. Sorrell took the case all the way to Quantico, Virginia, while she participated in the FBI National Academy. She was able to discuss the case with the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit.
Investigators tracked down potential witnesses all the way from Lake Charles to Alabama and were able to focus on Brandy Lapine Bruno, 34, a resident of Avenue H in Bogalusa who admitted to being present at the time of Toups’ disappearance and murder. Bruno was interviewed and supplied information, although she would not identify the person who murdered Toups.
According to information provided by Bruno, Toups was targeted by substance abusers loitering in and around the Budget Inn. They lured from his motel room at approximately 8:30 p.m. He was a logical target for the substance abusers seeking money to fuel their habit. He was not local, was intoxicated and had a large amount of cash in his front jeans pocket. Toups was robbed of his cash and bludgeoned to death. His body was then discarded by his small group of killers. This was the story told by Bruno, who recently pleaded guilty for her role in Obstruction of Justice in this homicide investigation. Bruno was sentenced to ten years and is currently an inmate with the Louisiana Department of Corrections.
Although Bruno gave information regarding the murder of Toups, she would not reveal the names of his killers. She went so far as to reenact the bludgeoning death of Toups and explained her role in disposal of the body. She gave varying accounts about the location of the body and named persons who were involved in the murder. Those persons are under investigation.
During the investigation, several people in the area have come forward saying they had heard about “the missing man from the motel who was buried near Coburn Creek.” Evidence has suggested this may be what happened to the body and several areas on Coburn Creek have been searched with cadaver dogs and earth digging equipment. The Coburn Creek area is still a possible location of the body, but investigators are also looking at other areas. No location is being ruled out.
Shortly after the disappearance and murder of Toups, his father died. His mother, a resident of Lafourche Parish, stayed actively interested in the investigation until her recent death. Remaining family members have reserved a burial plot for Toups by his parents and is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the discovery and recovery of the body of Larkie Toups.
Any person with information that might lead to the discovery and recovery of the body is asked to contact Capt. Tommie Sorrell at (985) 661-2024. Callers may remain anonymous and will be issued a P.I.N. number to claim the reward if their information is valid.
Sheriff Randy Seal is pleased with the progress of the investigation. “This is a cold case that lay dormant for about four years before our investigators re-opened it. I am confident that it will be eventually solved. I encourage anyone with information about the location of Toups’ body to come forward, tell us where he is, and then be able to claim the $1,000 reward. We need to bring closure to the Toups family and to bring these killers to justice.”