In the summer of 1997 David Lavon Mitchell Jr. (Tweedy) was attending a birthday party with his mother Leatrice Mitchell, grandmother and aunt Rita Oubre. Just two days after this celebration St. Charles Parish police would recover Mitchell’s lifeless body along an abandoned stretch of highway near a wooded area on the River Road in Hahnville.
St. Charles Parish police officials believe Mitchell, who died at 19 years old is suspected serial killer Ronald Dominique’s first victim in the parish.
Oubre says after the party that Saturday night she dropped Mitchell off in Killona at his grandmother’s house.
“He told me that he wasn’t going anywhere, he was going to wait for his uncle to give him a ride back to Luling. My brother didn’t show up, so I guess he decided to try to hitchhike back to his mom’s,” Oubre tells the Herald-Guide.
Oubre says Mitchell went to a wedding reception first and then tried to catch a ride back to Luling.
“We didn’t hear from him at all on Sunday, we just assumed he was at a friend’s house,” Oubre says.
On Monday morning the news got worse, Mitchell’s supervisor at St. Charles Parish Hospital called his mother and told her that he didn’t show up for work.
“My sister called and told me that his badge and work clothes were still in his room untouched and my nephew never missed a day from work and if he ever stayed out overnight he would always call his mother to let her know where he was going to be. I told her to call the police department.” Oubre says.
As the day progressed the family says they begin to hear rumors throughout the Luling Estates Subdivision about a black man’s body that was found on the River Road in Hahnville.
“We were praying it wasn’t him,” Oubre says.
The family turned on the television as they routinely did to watch the local news at noon and learned the details about the body of a young black male found in St. Charles Parish on the River Road and then a picture of Mitchell’s face flashed across the television.
Oubre says she will never forget her sister’s screams.
“It seemed within a matter of few minutes the police detectives were at the front door telling us about Tweedy and she was hysterical she couldn’t stop screaming and crying. She was so upset when Jefferson Parish coroner’s office called she couldn’t even go and view the body. I went with her husband and my brother,” Oubre says.
In an ironic twist last Saturday, Dec. 2, the police detectives arrived at the Mitchell home again, this time with news of a different kind. Detective Renee Kinler and Major Sam Zinna told the family that Dominique had confessed to murdering Mitchell nine years ago.
“It is not a relief to the family. It is like starting all over again. My sister has never made peace with this death. Her only child is murdered. Every year she buys him Christmas, Birthday, and Easter presents. His pictures are in every room of this house. Everywhere you look you see pictures of Tweedy,” Oubre says.
Mitchell’s mother, who worked for the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office says she was hurt by the comments made at the press conference describing her son as someone who led a high risked life style.
The family tells the Herald-Guide that Mitchell was a graduate of Hahnville Highschool, a school newspaper reporter, an honor roll student, who had dreams of one day becoming a St. Charles Parish coroner or a mortician-most importantly he never abused drugs or alcohol nor did he lead any type of high risk lifestyle.
During a press conference held in Terrebonne Parish, Sheriff Jerry Larpenter says the 23 victims of suspected serial killer Dominque led high risk lifestyles and often hitchhiked, according to Mitchell’s family these allegations do not apply to him.
“He never hitchhiked frequently, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Oubre says.