Man, 60, sentenced in 1985 murder case

Source: St. Bernard Parish
Source: St. Bernard Parish
Dorothy Thompson at her pet cemetery in Toca in 1981.
Dorothy Thompson at her pet cemetery in Toca in 1981.

A 60-year-old man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of a pet cemetery owner 29 years ago.

Brandon Nodier was sentenced in a Chalmette court Friday for the murder of 61-year-old Dorothy Thompson. Her body was found on May 2, 1985 in the Mississippi River shackled by chains.

Thompson was the owner of a pet cemetery in eastern St. Bernard. Officers say she was suffocated.

The investigation didn't produce enough evidence to arrest Wordier until someone with information came forward in April 2012 and testified before a grand jury in St. Bernard. Nodier was later released on a $300,000 bond.

Nodier was remanded to St. Bernard Parish Prison by state District Judge Perry Nicosia.

Ultimately, justice wasn't denied as Nodier pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a Chalmette courtroom Friday.  Nodier received a 10-year prison sentence. He accepted a plea agreement to a reduced charge of manslaughter that was worked out between the District Attorney's office and defense attorney Patrick Fanning.

"I would have liked to see him spend the rest of his life in prison,'' Sheriff James Pohlmann said afterward, but acknowledged the case had numerous challenges.

It relied almost solely on the testimony of a witness who came forward two years ago and said he saw Nodier kill Thompson at her home and then put her in the Mississippi River.

"There's always a risk of going to trial with little evidence," the sheriff said.

Investigators in the St. Bernard Sheriff's Office said Nodier murdered Thompson to get his hands on her 14 acres of land located in the Toca community in the eastern end of the parish. Thompson owned Azalea Original Pet Cemetery.

Nodier had worked as a handyman for Thompson and her mother, according to investigators. But Thompson ended up in a legal fight with Nodier over her land.

"The motive was his strong desire to possess Dorothy Thompson's land," said Col. Doran. He said Nodier tried to dupe Thompson.

"He and his wife apparently hatched a scheme to coerce Ms. Thompson out of her land. They coerced her into what we believe was a fraudulent act of sale. When she realized what had happened, she filed a lawsuit against the Nodier's to get her land back. Ten days prior to it going to trial, she disappeared. That was the motive," continued Doran.

Thompson's partially nude body was found in the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish by fishermen on May 2, 1985. In addition to the chains on her body, a plastic bag and wire were around her neck.

Sheriff Jack Stephens said at the outset Nodier was a prime suspect, but there was not enough evidence to arrest him in the past.

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