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Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women…

Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis 8?

by Ethan Brown

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Being from South Louisiana, with “Murder in the Bayou”, I was expecting to read an objective exposé on the troubling and tragic issue euphemistically referred to as the Jeff Davis 8. Instead what I read, mixed among the facts as they are known, is a series of unsubstantiated allegations and abuses of journalistic decorum.

Initially, Brown’s line of reasoning seemed intriguing if not a bit forced at times. As the book progresses, however, one gets the impression that Brown’s antagonism is directed at law enforcement in general, from the Jeff Davis and Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office, to the Louisiana State Police implicating the whole lot, and not focused on the real aspect of the case and actual evidence pointing to certain perpetrators. Ethan, just because someone doesn’t want to talk to you doesn’t mean they have something to hide. If I was Sheriff Wood, I wouldn’t talk to you either. Every authority figure that does talk to you is painted as a conspirator in drugs, prostitution and murder.

Of course police and political corruption exists, and probably in this case. Nevertheless, Brown, fails in his attempt to pin the murders on the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Department. Although it has not been established, it is not beyond the realm of possibility, and may even be probable, that some in authority in Jennings are culpable in the incidents surrounding the deaths of these 8 prostitutes and others. (Most of the allegations of high level police misconduct originate from the criminal element of Jennings, by the way. Hmm, go figure.) Brown, however, finds a conspirator and accomplice under every rock, as long as it’s wearing a badge. His ridiculous attempt to implicate Governor Bobby Jindal, by association and his derisive remark that “Jindal’s dissatisfaction fixed nothing” reveals much of Brown’s agenda.

This is revealed in Brown’s jargon as well. His incessant use of term “sex worker” instead of prostitute*, is not only annoying but comes off as nothing more than a clandestine attempt to legitimise that criminal activity. The innocuous locution does not dislodge the truth, however. Sheriff Edwards in his frankness, was absolutely right, the drug-addicted prostitutes of Jennings, known as the Jeff Davis 8, lived a “high risk lifestyle.”

*The word ‘prostitute’ is used not one single time in the entire book. Not surprisingly, neither is ‘whore’, ‘hooker’, ‘harlot’, or ‘wench’.

In Brown’s reasoning, the criminal element “might” be responsible for some foul play, but they are nothing more than pawns and victims of society being controlled and manipulated by the true offenders; the law.

Sadly, some of Brown’s assumption and theories may not be far removed from the truth, but to no avail. He loses all credibility and reveals himself as someone antagonistic to law enforcement and sympathetic to thugs explicitly in the Acknowledgements at the end of the ebook.

Brown states:

“So I have to express my incredible thanks and boundless gratitude to the protesters in the Ferguson/St. Louis area for bringing the issue of law enforcement misconduct into the public discourse. In a few months, you made possible what criminal justice system reformers have been unable to achieve for decades. Thank you. The future belongs to folks like y’all.”

A group of riotous thugs burning down their neighborhood has Ethan Brown’s boundless gratitude? Very telling. Brown’s misrepresentation of the incidents in Ferguson, Baton Rouge, et.al., to which he refers in the Acknowledgements is appalling. Surely, he cannot be uninformed on the facts of the cases. All this type of attitude does is demean the victims of actual police brutality and makes it more difficult for departments to deal with those officers.

Finally, although it is reasonable to believe that some cover-up has taken place, and that some officers were involved in at least some of the events surrounding these murders, it is reporting like this that paints an unambiguous picture, confuses the real issues and perpetuates a false narrative that too many people then assume to be true; because after all, they read it in a book. ( )
  LJayLeBlanc | Apr 3, 2017 |
This is an interesting book about the unsolved murders of eight women in a small town in Louisiana. It is a short book, and it is less about the murders themselves than about the rampant police corruption in this town particularly and Louisiana more broadly. The writer is very clearly a journalist and his writing is concise and readable.

The author does speculate somewhat, and he does rely on anonymous witnesses. Normally I find that to be somewhat off-putting in a true crime book, but he seems to have a very healthy skepticism and corroborates where possible.

I've read other reviews of this book where the reviewers are frustrated by the author's very brief mention of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO, calling it irrelevant or saying its inclusion is a political statement. For starters, it is mentioned almost in passing in the body of the book, and given an acknowledgment in the afterword. Second, the book is about the eight women who died, yes, but it is really about the gross negligence, incompetence, and outright corruption within the Jennings (and surrounding area) law enforcement community that has prevented the murders from being solved. The DoJ found that Ferguson was plagued with similar problems, and the issues associated with getting justice in a community where the police are operating virtually unchecked are the same.

I am only giving the book 4 stars because after awhile, I found it very difficult to follow the cast of characters and their deeply interwoven lives. The beginning of the book does have a summary of who each person is, and I recommend bookmarking that, because you will need to reference it often. ( )
  slug9000 | Mar 1, 2017 |
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