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In the summer of 1927, the town of Morgan City and its citizens were rocked with a brutal murder of James LeBoeuf. But what’s even more startling was the revelation of those who committed it: James Beadle, Dr. Thomas Dreher, and LaBoeuf’s own wife, Ada. This led to an investigation trial and verdict that continues to have lasting effects on the community and the family to this day.
The Dreher/LeBoeuf case occurred in Morgan City and Franklin. Those the important sites. That’s in St. Mary Parish. Case begins with the July 1st, 1927, shooting of James LeBoeuf on flooded Lake Palourde in Morgan City. The man who did the actual shooting was named Jim Beadle. Beadle was the handyman of Dr. Thomas E. Dreher, who at the time was about 55. He allegedly was having an affair with victim James LeBoeuf’s wife, Ada Bonner LeBoeuf.
James LaBoeuf was a very intelligent, capable man. At the time of his death, he was the superintendent of the Morgan City Plant of the Louisiana Public Utilities Company. He was a good provider, and he and Ada had four children.
James LeBoeuf was jealous. He was an abusive husband, and his abuse is documented in the court record by testimony under oath by people who would know. About two years earlier, a woman whom Ada described as “the woman from across the tracks” had written an anonymous letter to Mrs. Dreher. She did not know what to do, and she showed the letter to James LeBoeuf. Initially, the two decided that, you know, it was just an anonymous letter and not to take it seriously. But about two to four weeks before the murder, and during the Great Flood of 1927, another letter was sent. And this really riled James LeBoeuf.
Now, in this period, he had become insanely jealous. He was stalking Dr. Dreher; he had threatened Ada LeBoeuf. Ada and Dr. Dreher are now very, very worried about their own safety. And so, on the afternoon of July 1st, Ada LeBoeuf writes a letter in pencil to Dr. Dreher asking that they meet:
Dear Doctor, Jim and me will go boat riding tonight on the lake. I talked to Jim. I believed he will treat you friendly, so meet us tonight and fix this up friendly and be friends after because I’m tired of Jim saying he will kill us. As ever, Ada.
Dr. Dreher is out on rounds. He’s a country doctor, and he’s making the rounds. And he doesn’t respond to Ada’s note. At about 5:30, she phones, and they set up a time to supposedly meet. According to trial testimony, James LeBoeuf sets where they meet. Dr. Dreher, when he gets the note, contacts his handyman, Jim Beadle, who also is a hunter, a trapper. He’s also very, very intelligent and very, very cunning.
He tells Beadle they need the boat. It’s a green pirogue that Beadle has made—belongs to both of them. Ada and James pick up a skiff that belongs to Charles Garber, and they go to her brother’s house. His name is Emory, and they borrow another boat. They head south—or they’re going to cross Highway 182, which of course, is under water. Dreher and Beadle are on the south side of Brashear, Highway 182.
They meet. Dr. Dreher says, “Is that you, James?” And James says, “Yes, it is.” And then he curses, and then supposedly, he fires a pistol he has with him. Beadle stands up. He has a shotgun. It is a pump-action shotgun, hammerless. And he stands up in the pirogue, and he fires point-blank into James LeBoeuf’s chest.
On the next edition of The Verdict, our look into the case of Ada LeBoeuf continues. I’m Digger Earls, and I’m David Laborde. We’ll see you next time.
This presentation of The Verdict on News 15 was brought to you by Laborde Earls Injury Lawyers.