Brothers say allegations in missing-girl case wrecked their lives
LAFAYETTE — Two brothers arrested last year on suspicion of kidnapping Duson teen Keiosha Felix have filed federal lawsuits against the town and police officials, claiming their lives were turned upside-down after they were falsely accused.
Leon Wilkerson Jr. and Ronald Wilkerson filed the suits in U.S. District Court this week against the town of Duson, Police Chief Frank Andrew and former Assistant Chief Gerald Credeur.
The Wilkersons, who filed separate suits, seek compensatory and punitive damages and attorney costs. Both men said they lost their jobs because of the accusations and arrests that were not based on probable cause.
Leon Wilkerson was booked into the Lafayette Parish Correction Center on July 24 on one count of second-degree kidnapping and one count of rape, two allegations connected to the case of Keiosha Felix.
Felix, who was 15 when she disappeared, remains missing.
In April, near the one-year marker of her disappearance, Felix’s relatives teamed with local and state police investigators to appeal to anyone who had information about the girl’s whereabouts. They offered a $5,000 reward for information that still stands.
The appeal, made through local print and broadcast media, even reached out to Felix herself, a signal that there was a chance that Felix ran away from home and the baby she bore at age 14.
On Wednesday, there was nothing new to report about Felix, said Capt. Kip Judice, with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, which has taken the lead in investigating Felix’s disappearance.
The Duson Police Department was the lead police agency in the summer of 2012. Credeur, the assistant chief who led the investigation, arrested Leon Wilkerson on July 24 on a warrant of second-degree kidnapping and simple rape, according to the lawsuit.
Wilkerson, of Jackson, was connected to Felix through the teen’s aunt, Patricia Andrus, whom he was dating at the time. Andrus, too, was later jailed for alleged improper supervision of Felix and accessory after the fact to simple rape.
The Wilkersons, Andrus and one other person who was arrested were later released and are no longer considered suspects. Both lawsuits allege the Wilkersons were arrested without probable cause.
“As a result of the defendants’ false accusations against him, Leon Wilkerson Jr. spent more than seven weeks as a prisoner, confined first in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison and then in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center,” Leon Wilkerson’s suit reads.
The suit states Wilkerson was unable to make bail when the bond was set at $350,000, and that he “was completely unprepared for the hardships” of parish prison life.
“These ranged from things as simple as being forced to eat food which was hardly edible, to more serious things like living each day with the threats to his physical well-being which resulted from him being charged with a sexual offense involving a minor girl and being confined in immediate contact with hardened inmates …,” Wilkerson said in the suit filed by Baton Rouge attorneys Karl J. Koch and Robert L. Campbell.
Koch and Campbell also represent Wilkerson’s brother, Ronald Wilkerson, who spent seven days in Lafayette Parish prison after he was booked Aug. 6 on one count of simple kidnapping.
Ronald Wilkerson, of Baton Rouge, was unable to get out of jail after bond was set at $150,000, according to the suit, which mirrors his brother’s except for the details of his arrest and incarceration.
The brothers claim they suffered “mental and emotional damages.”
A message left with the Duson Police Department for Andrew was not returned Wednesday, and Duson town attorney Brad Andrus did not respond to a message left at his Lafayette office.