COVINGTON, La. (WGNO) — Days after the gruesome discovery of two badly-burned bodies on the North Shore, officials with the Covington Police Department and the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office have identified both victims and released chilling details about the investigation.
Earlier this week, the bodies were recovered from behind a business in downtown Covington. Police reported the corpses had been ‘burned beyond recognition.’ However, details released by the police department revealed the case started as a hit-and-run investigation over the weekend. Here’s what we know so far:
Sunday, November 27
7:11 p.m.: Detectives are called to a sign hit-and-run near the St. Tammany bike trace. Police say the vehicle was registered under the name of Ruth Prats, a longtime employee of the St. Peter Parish Catholic Church.
When officers were unable to contact Prats, detectives reached out to her family, who also could not reach her. When they called Prats’ phone, it was heard ringing in a nearby dumpster. Prats was then declared missing.
Monday, November 28
Around 3:45 a.m., Prats’ vehicle, a white SUV, was located in a Walgreens parking lot on US 190. The driver, police say, was 49-year-old Antonio Donde Tyson with a White woman, who was not Prats, in the passenger seat. The two were detained for questioning and the SUV was secured by the police department.
Shortly after Prats’ car was located, detectives learned that Father Otis Young, a retired priest at the St. Peter Parish, was determined to have been with Prats on Sunday afternoon. When police visited Young’s apartment, he was not there.
On Monday morning around 6, police responded to downtown Covington for a report of possible human remains. That’s where officers found the two bodies behind a local business.
Later on Monday, detectives arrested 49-year-old Antonio Donde Tyson in connection to the double homicide investigation.
Disclaimer: Covington PD says they have no evidence that suggests Tyson was involved with the church or had known either victim.
In a statement released Friday, CPD released the following statement:
“After Tyson’s arrest, the Covington Police Department received numerous reports and surveillance footage showing Tyson attempting to talk his way into houses in the immediate area, before making contact with Ruth Prats and Father Young.”
Chilling surveillance video
Surveillance video obtained by the police department of 4 p.m. Sunday shows a man, described as Tyson, riding a bicycle past Prats’ home. The suspect is seen circling back and speaking to both Prats and Young for a few moments. He then leaves the two on his bike, rides it to a local grocery store, and comes back on foot about 10 minutes later.
Detectives say the suspect is then seen approaching Prats’ home and crouches near her front door with what appeared to be a knife behind his back. He then enters the home.
At 5:14 p.m., Prats’ white SUV is seen backing out of the driveway and goes out of camera view. The subject is seen leaving Prats’ home around 6:30 in Prats’ car. Detectives say Tyson was caught on camera driving Prats’ car by multiple home and business surveillance systems across town.
At one point, police say Tyson is seen on camera filling up a gas can with fuel, still in possession of the SUV.
All this is what led up to the arrest of Tyson, announced later Monday morning.
About Antonio Donde Tyson
We’re told by the Louisiana Department of Corrections that Tyson received a 40-year sentence in 1993 for forcible rape, a 40-year sentence for armed robbery, and a 30-year sentence for aggravated burglary, all to run concurrently.
Because of Act 138 of 1991, Tyson was eligible for release on February 1, 2012, on good-time parole supervision. However, prison misconduct would keep Tyson behind bars for 10 more years, leading to his release only three months prior to the discovery of the bodies. He was charged with the following related to the double homicide:
- First-degree murder (2 counts)
- Second-degree kidnapping (2 counts)
- Obstruction of justice (2 counts)
- Resisting an officer
- Illegal possession of stolen things
- Resisting an officer by giving a false name
We’re told Tyson is being held without bond following a court hearing Tuesday morning.