Murder on the river

Published 2:52 pm Friday, January 21, 2011

What could have been a dispute about money or romance led to the death of a Pearl River County resident on the state line and the arrest of 60 year-old county resident Ralph Henley.

The murder is reported to have taken place on Jan. 14, when 51 year-old Brett Boudan did not make it home, prompting his girlfriend of seven years to report him missing the next day after her brother found Boudan’s car at the boat launch in Pearl River, La., said Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Shane Tucker.

When the department learned about Boudan’s truck, they contacted the Pearl River, La. Police Department, who said one of their officers already went to check it out. Considering the keys were still in the ignition and the door was left ajar an investigation ensued.

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Pearl River Police Chief Bennie Raynor said the investigation has so far shown that Henley and Boudan knew each other previous to the tragic events over that weekend. Apparently both men had dated the same woman and there was also testimony that one owed the other money, Raynor said.

“I got a crime and I got it solved but I do not have a motive,” Raynor said.

Raynor said Henley gave testimony that the two men met that Friday at the boat launch to discuss the owed money. During that meeting Boudan pulled a gun, a struggle ensued, the gun went off and the bullet hit Boudan in the head, killing him, Raynor said. However Raynor said there is no way to prove Henley’s side of the story.

“I got a one-sided story here though,” Raynor said.

Henley then chose to bury Boudan’s body in a gravel pit in Lacombe, La., where he worked, which happens to be owned by Raynor’s son and is how Raynor knows Henley,  Raynor said. Raynor said his son became suspicious of the hole at the pit, especially since it was in an area where workers were not digging. When the gravel pit owner questioned Henley about the presence of the hole at the pit Henley told his boss at first that he knew nothing about it, but called back later to say he buried a dog there that he hit with his vehicle, Raynor said.

The suspicious nature of the story caused Raynor’s son to call his father. In the mean time the line of questioning from his boss caused Henley to get nervous and exhume Boudan’s body with an excavator and move it to Pearl River County, where it was later found off of South Valley Road, Raynor said. However that process was not entirely complete and left some flesh and bone evidence at the gravel pit.

“When you dig somebody up with a big excavator it’s going to tear the body all up,” Raynor said.

While most of the body was found in Pearl River County, a section of skull and other soft tissue was still in the gravel pit, Raynor said.

Henley is charged with second degree murder. Raynor said Louisiana law states unless the act of murder involves a law officer, firefighter or was conducted during the act of another crime, then the charge will be second degree murder.

Court proceedings for this case will be held in St. Tammany Parish court in Covington.