Man indicted in killing roommate, burying in tomato garden

A 54-year-old man accused of beating his 77-year-old roommate to death with a sledgehammer and burying him in a backyard tomato garden was indicted Wednesday on murder charges.

An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury charged Douglas Studeman, 4850 Alvin Dark Drive, Baton Rouge, with second-degree murder in the May 18 killing of Chester Oakley.

Studeman faces mandatory life in prison if convicted.

Oakley opened his home to Studeman in late February in exchange for Studeman helping him with work around the house, police have said.

The discovery of Oakley’s body in the tomato garden came after his grandson called police early May 20 to make a missing persons report when he became worried after not hearing from his grandfather since May 18, police have said.

Police arrived at Oakley’s Alvin Dark home about 4 a.m., but found nothing suspicious because things seemed to be in their place.

However, soon after leaving the home, police learned Oakley’s debit card had been used at a Circle K convenience store on Brightside Drive, not far from Oakley’s home, and that a family member had found blood on the walls and furniture while inspecting the inside of the home, police have said.

Police returned to the home to search for any other signs of foul play. Family members told police the garden was normally well-kept by Oakley, but when police found it, plants were casually thrown atop freshly overturned dirt.

A short while later, they found Oakley’s bludgeoned body wrapped in bedsheets buried several inches deep in the garden, police have said.

Studeman confessed to the killing, telling homicide detectives that he killed Oakley because the 77-year-old man was mean and poked him in the chest during an argument. He also admitted to taking Oakley’s debit card several times to withdraw money after killing him.

Studeman originally was arrested on counts of first-degree murder and armed robbery.