M. Thibodeaux and T. Thibodeaux
Runaway juvenile located after day long search
The search for a missing nine-year-old that encompassed the entire Point Blue and surrounding areas came to an end Sunday morning with news the child was found safe under a bed inside a neighbor’s home. The parents of the child were later arrested on charges of cruelty to juveniles.
The finding of Bryson Thibodeaux was the culmination of a weekend long series of events that began with his reported disappearance on Friday, December 28.
According to a press release from the Evangeline Parish Sheriff Office, the child’s mother Minette Thibodeaux reported her son “left his residence from the 3400 block of Chataignier Road without his father’s permission or knowledge.”
The press release continued, “He was last seen at 12:30 p.m. (on Friday). The reporting person stated her son has done this in the past but was always located shortly after.”
Shortly after news broke about Thibodeaux’s disappearance, several other law enforcement agencies and volunteers from the surrounding area joined the Evangeline Parish Sheriff Office with the search efforts.
Spearheading the volunteer search efforts was Point Blue resident Chasity Vizinat Guillory. “I felt like I was just being a mother and doing what a mother would do,” she said.
Guillory’s efforts began with a social media post. “We have a Facebook page called Point Blue Buzzard Watch,” she said. “It’s for only our local people, and we look out for each other. Based on that, at 8:30 or 9:00 on that Friday night, I got a message on the Buzzard Watch page saying a nine-year-old little boy was missing from Point Blue.”
Guillory then got in touch with the person who sent the message, and it turned out to be the child’s grandfather. “I asked him if it would be ok if I came and helped and tried to get some people together,” she said. “He was very humbled and grateful. So, I posted on the Buzzard Watch page there was no way I was going to be able to sleep that night knowing the little boy was out there in the cold and asked for everybody who was willing to help to meet at The Blue Junction.”
She continued, “As soon as I got to The Blue Junction, people started milling around, and we just started. We checked culverts, ditches, and levees. We went by vehicle, four-wheelers, and on foot. We probably did a 10-mile radius.”
According to Guillory, joining in on the search Friday night were the Chief of Police Clint Brasseaux and Mayor-elect Justin Darbonne of Chataignier and the Chataignier and Ward 1 Fire Departments. Also searching was Evangeline Parish Warden Josh LaFleur.
“He was helpful and determined,” said Guillory about Warden LaFleur. “He just helped out a lot and stayed with us throughout the entire night.”
By the next morning, Guillory was contacted by the Cajun Search and Rescue and American Cajun Navy who wanted to come join the search that continued throughout the day and into the night.
“At daylight,” said Guillory, “we probably had about 150 people, and it just continued by word of mouth and spread until all law enforcement was there.”
She added, “Saturday really shocked me. It was humbling to see the humanity left in the world when you mostly see negative. It was so good to see there are still good people.”
The search was then called off around 7:00 p.m. that night by the sheriff’s office because of deteriorating weather conditions.
In a statement, the sheriff’s office said, “As of 7:30 p.m., part of the search has been suspended for the volunteers out of safety concerns. However, the Cajun Navy is going to continue to search throughout the night because they are better equipped for nighttime searches.”
About seven hours after the search was called off is when the child was located safe and unharmed.
After the child was located, according to the sheriff’s office’s press release, “Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services were immediately contacted after noticing how malnourished the juvenile appeared to be and his home living conditions. DCFS officials took custody of both Bryson and his eight-year-old sister.”
When contacted via telephone Wednesday morning, DCFS advised it was “not at liberty to discuss anything” regarding the Thibodeaux children.
Also after the child was located, his parents were taken into custody by the sheriff’s office and booked into the parish jail on charges of cruelty to juveniles. Their bonds were set at $35,000.00 each by 13th Judicial District Court Judge Chuck West.
The Thibodeauxs posted 12 percent of the bond through a bondsman on Tuesday night and were released from jail. They will appear in court on Thursday, January 17, for arraignment in front of Judge West.
Following the arrest of Paul and Minette Thibodeaux, America’s Cajun Navy set up a GoFundMe account as a fundraiser for the minor children.
“It’s to occupy their minds to where they’re not reminiscing about certain things. Bad things, possibly. So we’re doing this drive, getting Christmas presents and everything for them to keep positive and keep moving forward with these kids,” said America’s Cajun Navy Founder John Billiot.
As of 9:00 on Wednesday morning, 207 people donated $7,324.00 of the $7,500.00 goal in 21 hours.
The Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office would like to thank all agencies, organizations, and volunteers who assisted in the return of Bryson Thibodeaux.