Assaults, thefts during break-ins described as investigation continues
New details surfaced Wednesday in the recent string of home invasions gripping Baton Rouge, as detectives offered graphic accounts of two sexual attacks in court records that differed from earlier police statements.
Meanwhile, prosecutors sought a higher bail amount for Vorris Mouton, the suspect arrested in two of the break-ins after DNA linked him to the crime scenes. Authorities are still investigating whether Mouton, 35, of New Iberia, is responsible for several other home invasions that generally targeted elderly women in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Last week, as news of the break-ins spread and a troubling pattern emerged, police said none of the victims had reported their assailant carrying a weapon.
But a search warrant filed Wednesday, outlining a Jan. 12 home invasion in Glen Oaks that remains unsolved, says a 34-year-old woman saw an intruder holding “what appeared to be a firearm” after he walked through her carport door.
The attacker dragged the woman out of her bed by her ankle, pushed her to her knees and tried to remove her underwear, according to the warrant. He then struck the woman several times and placed a pillowcase over her head before “shuffling around” the residence, the warrant says.
The woman, who declined to discuss the attack because the case remains open, managed to flee to a neighbor’s house and contact police.
Mouton was booked Monday in a Dec. 22 home invasion on Reymond Drive — a crime police had not initially grouped among the related break-ins — and was re-arrested Tuesday after the State Police Crime Lab tied his DNA to a Jan. 17 burglary and sexual battery in the Sherwood Forest area.
After the Jan. 17 break-in, the most recent disclosed by authorities, police issued a news release saying an intruder had asked a 70-year-old woman for money “but she did not have any available and he fled the residence.” However, in an arrest warrant filed Wednesday, Detective Eric Kenny writes that Mouton fled the woman’s home “with an unknown amount of U.S. currency.”
Before leaving, Mouton blindfolded the victim with a T-shirt, threw her facedown on her bed and digitally penetrated her, the warrant says. “After the defendant sexually assaulted the victim he walked her through her residence demanding that she show him where she kept money,” Kenny added.
Prosecutors said the allegations do not constitute rape — and that sexual battery appeared to be the appropriate charge — because Mouton allegedly used his fingers in the attack.
Asked about the differing details police have provided on the home invasions, Sgt. Mary Ann Godawa, a police spokeswoman, said the department’s primary objective is to protect the victims’ privacy and the integrity of investigations.
“The preliminary information is sometimes lacking detail, but as the investigation unfolds the details evolve,” she wrote in an e-mail. “The victims can be interviewed several times and during those interviews, new information is given, but in the case of a sexual offense we do not release the specific details of the attack.”
The total number of home invasions has also been a moving target, and police have refused to identify the streets on which three of the break-ins occurred. At least five similar break-ins have occurred in East Baton Rouge Parish during the past month, but it’s unclear whether they are related.
“Investigators are looking back over months of cases to see if there are any others that could possibly be related,” Godawa said. “I do not have a number at this point, but as we have said, we will release it as soon as that information becomes available to us.”
Authorities have said they are checking with agencies in neighboring parishes to see whether any similar home invasions occurred there.
For its part, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating a Jan. 13 break-in in the 9000 block of Oliphant Road in which a woman nearly ran into a gloved intruder who broke into her home. She screamed and fled, but the burglar apparently took a purse from the home and a firearm from an unlocked vehicle parked outside the house.
“The homeowner later reported seeing a second man outside the window at some point that was not as big or heavy set as the first,” said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.
Hicks said the incident differed from the other Baton Rouge home invasions in both the description of the burglar and the lack of a sexual attack. “At this time, we have not linked Mouton to any of our cases,” she said.
Mouton, who was paroled last June, is a serial burglar from Iberia Parish who has been in and out of prison the past 17 years. He has convictions for battery of a police officer, illegal possession of burglary tools and criminal trespassing and most recently was sentenced to six years of hard labor in 2011 for burglary of an inhabited dwelling.
Pam Laborde, a corrections spokeswoman, has said Mouton was compliant with the terms of his good-time supervision before his arrest this week.
Prosecutors noted Mouton’s extensive criminal history in a motion Wednesday to increase his bail, which was set at $40,000 by state District Judge Don Johnson. Even though a parole hold will keep Mouton behind bars indefinitely, prosecutors, in seeking the bail increase, cited the danger the community Wwould face by Mouton’s release.
State District Judge Bonnie Jackson is expected to consider the motion during a hearing Thursday morning.
Staff writer Billy Gunn contributed to this report