Inmate in mental facility

A Charenton man arrested in the January killing of a police officer and another man, and the wounding of two deputies, is now in the mental facility of a state prison, his public defender said.

Wilbert Thibodeaux, 48, is being held in the mental ward of Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, said Craig Colwart, the attorney.

Thibodeaux’s location reinforces early indications that Thibodeaux is mentally unstable and unfit for trial, Colwart said.

Thibodeaux was arrested after he allegedly shot and killed Chitimacha Tribal police Sgt. Rick Riggenbach, 52, on Jan. 26.

On that same day, Thibodeaux shot Eddie Lyons, 78, and burned down his home where Lyons’ body was found, police said.

In the week after he was arrested, Thibodeaux was transferred to the Louisiana State Prison at Angola, Colwart said.

Colwart said Thibodeaux stayed at Angola for just a few days before authorities transferred him to Hunt.

Colwart in early February was planning to quickly request a review of Thibodeaux by a sanity commission where two doctors would examine him and a judge would rule if he is mentally fit to aid in his defense at a trial.

Colwart said this past week that he has postponed the commission request while he and others gather information on Thibodeaux’s mental capacity.

“It looked like it was going to be quick …. We’re developing so much information we want to make sure the judge has it all,” Colwart said.

If a judge rules Thibodeaux mentally incompetent to stand trial, proceedings will not continue until he gains competence, Colwart said.

Hundreds of law officers attended Riggenbach’s funeral in Franklin and burial in Morgan City on Jan. 31.

Riggenbach was shot and killed after he answered a call about a man walking down Flat Iron Road with a shotgun. A review of arrest records showed that Riggenbach had arrested Thibodeaux on a disturbing the peace count days before the shootings.

Thibodeaux also is suspected of shooting and wounding two St. Mary Parish sheriff’s deputies as they responded to the same call.

An investigation is being conducted by State Police. Stephen Hammons, Troop I public affairs officer, said Friday that the investigation is ongoing.

Charenton residents who know Thibodeaux have said he had a history of mental problems, but had not had run-ins with police.