ARABI, La. — A St. Bernard Parish Deputy is keeping watch over the charred remains of the LeBeau Plantation in Arabi as more information emerges about the seven men accused in the alleged arson of this landmark.
Five of the suspects are from North Texas.
"They worked together, solicitation of sales, and that's the type of company they worked for," said St. Bernard Sheriff Jimmy Polmann. "That was their involvement with one another."
All but one of the men arrested in connection with the crime worked for a company called Circulation Marketing, Inc. The company's website lists suspect Dusten Davenport as one of its top 10 sales representatives in the country.
Richard Milne, president of Circulation Marketing, confirms the men were working door-to-door, selling subscriptions to the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper. Two of the suspects were wearing Times-Picayune polo shirts at the time of their arrest.
Milne had this to say about the arson: "This was not work-related. This was on their own time. I am very shocked and upset about what happened."
Pohlmann said the men were apparently staying with a suspect who lives near the LeBeau Plantation.
"With the alcohol and marijuana they were smoking, it became rowdy inside the house," Pohlmann said. "I think one thing led to another to the point where they decided to set the house on fire."
Fort Worth resident Dusten Davenport, 31, drew the highest bond at $450,000.
Pohlmann said there's a reason why he faces more severe charges.
"Information that we collected from the other individuals, kind of point to he was likely the ringleader, and it may have even been his idea to originally start the fire."
Grand Prairie residents Joshua Briscoe, 20; Joseph Landin, 20; and Joshua Allen, 21; and Jerry Hamblen, 17, of Dallas had bonds set at $350,000.
Kevin Barbe, 20 from Arabi and Byron Meek from Gretna face $75,000 bonds. As of late Monday afternoon, all of the suspects remained behind bars.
We reached out to NOLA Media Group publisher Ricky Mathews and Times-Picayune circulation director Phil Ehrhardt for comment on this story. A spokeswoman for the newspaper said, "We are not taking any calls from the media."