Discovery Channel’s true crime reality series Killing Fields returned for a second season tonight as detectives Rodie Sanchez and Aubrey St. Angelo of Louisiana’s Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office continue to try to close the nearly 20-year-old unsolved murder of former Louisiana State University student Eugenie Boisfontaine. In addition to that cold case, however, when a body turns up in a barrel in Natchitoches Parish it turns Rodie’s attention to another unsolved homicide that has haunted him for more than 25 years — that of Curtis “Cochise” Smith (photo below).
In the Season 2 premiere of Killing Fields, viewers are given the details of Cochise Smith’s disappearance, including audio recordings on a man named Tommy Francise confessing to Rodie that he shot and killed Cochise before placing his body in a weighted barrel and dumping it in river. We’re even shown footage of Francise showing investigators exactly where he allegedly dumped the barrel.
As open-and-shut as the case may sound, the fact that the body of Cochise was never found meant that the taped confession was not enough to convict Tommy Francise and he was never arrested.
But, in October of 2016, Tommy Francise was arrested for the murder of Curtis “Cochise” Smith and was also charged in the 2002 murder of George Barrett Jr. (Those are Tommy Francise’s mug shot photos above and below.) In a press conference after Fransise’s arrest, police officials explained that both men worked for Francise.
In that press conference (video included below), it was also revealed that it was through the assistance of the Discovery Channel and the additional resources they brought to the table in the form of modern forensic technology, that police were finally able to gather enough evidence to charge Francise in the murder of Curtis “Cochise” Smith.
It’s important to note that Cochise’s body was never found. It is revealed in the press conference that investigators did tests using flesh, weights, and a barrel which revealed that flesh gives off gas over time, which would have caused the barrel to eventually float and drift. This would explain why they were unable to locate it near where Francis said he dumped it.
Of course, this means that the body found in the barrel featured on Killing Fields was not that of Curtis “Cochise” Smith. So whose body was it? That is apparently still unknown. The Louisiana Repository for Unidentified and Missing People still has a listing for the unnamed male along with the composite photo created by LSU Faces. Here is that photo with the information they have, as well as phone numbers to call if you have any helpful information:
Date found: 2005-10-16
PMI: 1 year to 25 years
Location: Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
Est. age at death: 18 to 30
Height: 66 to 70 inches
Dental Records: Available
DNA Records: Available
FACES Case #: 05-34
‘Hanes’ brand boxer shorts, medium size; cotton-blend green/blue fabric (possibly a shirt/jacket) with drawstring hood
If you have any information concerning this case please contact the FACES Lab.
Teresa Wilson, Assistant Research Professor, LSU – (225) 578-4761
Maria Allaire, Research Associate, LSU – (225) 578-4775
After doing a little more research, I discovered there were details about this case in Mary H. Manheim’s book Bone Remains: Cold Cases In Forensic Anthropology. She reveals that the barrel was discovered in 2005 in a stream off of Highway 84 in Natchitoches Parish by the landowner, who called police as soon as he realized there were bones mixed in with the dried concrete.
The barrel was later transported to the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory where a small jackhammer was used to separate the concrete from the human remains. They were able to determine that the body was most likely that of a black male between the ages of 18 and 30. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the extent of what investigators were able to determine.
From Manheim’s book:
In the end, we had no choice but to estimate that the young man may have been in the barrel for as little as two years and as many as twenty-five. Unfortunately, he remains unidentified. We have taken DNA samples which have been entered in the national DNA database (COD IS). Also, we have completed a three-dimensional facial reconstruction and Photoshop enhancement for him…
One significant thing about this case makes me believe that it could be solved. The barrel alone was fairly heavy; the dead weight of a body is significant, especially an adult male. After he was put in the barrel, concrete was added to seal the barrel. Had whoever committed this crime anticipated that the barrel would sink to the bottom of the stream and stay there forever? Was the concrete put in the barrel by the side of the small stream? if not, one could suggest that the perpetrator might have had help moving the barrel and placing it in the water. Perhaps someone else has knowledge of the crime. When two people know something, sometimes one of them talks. It may be five years after the fact, or ten or more, but humans sometimes have a guilty conscience for the atrocities they perpetrate against their fellow humans. Let’s hope someone does in this case. Though the man in the barrel was a case of deliberate concealment, another concealment case took a different twist and more than likely was not deliberate at all.
What seems a little odd to me is that this body in a barrel was discovered off of Highway 84 in Natchitoches Parish back in 2005. On the show they make it seem like a recent discovery. Plus, the location where the barrel and body were found is a “shallow stream” more than one hundred miles northwest of Iberville Parish, so even if the barrel containing Cochise’s body had floated from the location Francise allegedly dumped it, that seems like an impossible place for it to wind up. Also, Cochise was 5’4″ and the body in the barrel was believed to have been a male between 5’6″ and 5’10” inches tall. In other words, I’m not very confident that it was quite the catalyst to reopen the investigation into Cochise’s disappearance as it looks on Killing Fields.
That being said, viewers can look forward to actually getting some closure this season as Tommy Francise was indicted by a grand jury in December on two charges of second-degree murder. He remains behind bars awaiting trial.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information about any substantial further developments in the homicide of Eugenie Boisfontaine.