On February 11, 1991, the eve of Mardi Gras, while many Louisiana residents and out-of-towners were gearing up to celebrate, a young couple was settling in for the night after putting their baby to bed. What happened next would have people questioning for decades.
Eric and Pam Ellender, by almost anyone’s standards, were the epitome of a happy and successful couple. Shortly after completing college, Pam, a former high school cheerleader and homecoming queen, married Eric, a young businessman and Louisiana Tech graduate, known as a dependable fraternity brother and loyal friend.
The newly-married couple bought a house next to Pam’s parents’ home in Sulphur, Louisiana, a suburban city close to the Texas state line. It’s the city where they had their first date — at the Sunday Services at the First Baptist Church.
Eric began working for Pam’s father, Huey Littleton, a successful insurance investigator. A year later, the couple welcomed their first child into a world, a baby girl. Pam, who, according to her father, dreamed of being a mother, was overjoyed with her little girl and would take daily walks with the baby, dropping in to see her parents along the way.
Meanwhile, in the nearby town of Baton Rouge, Chris Prudhomme, an 18-year-old high school dropout, was rumored to be part of a group known as Satan’s Kids Against the Establishment, a reported satanic cult that was allegedly active in Louisiana during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Although it remains unclear how Prudhomme allegedly singled out the Ellender home, he reportedly broke in while they were sleeping. During the early morning hours of February 12, he allegedly shot both Eric and Pam to death (their baby daughter was not killed).
Pam’s grandmother found the lifeless couple the next day, laying in bed, drenched in their own blood.
Several days later, Prudhomme was pulled over while driving the Ellender family’s Toyota 4Runner. Three other teens were in the vehicle, too. All four, including Ellender, Robert “Bobby Adkins, Phillip LeDoux and Kurt “Dragon” Reese, were detained, but Prudhomme confessed to the crimes and said he acted alone: “I went and shot ’em. . . . I shot the guy. . . . He had a hole in his head. . . . The lady, when she jumped, I shot her, too . . . in the face.”
Prudhomme was charged with two counts of felony murder and booked into the Calcasieu Parish jail. However, the story Prudhomme told investigators didn’t seem to match what investigators knew about the crime.
Before he was questioned any further, Prudhomme hung himself in a shower stall at the jail, just a little over two weeks after his arrest. He left behind a suicide note in an apparent attempt to convince authorities that no one else helped him with the murders. He also reportedly added that he “enjoyed” the act of killing: “The main reason of my death is to hopefully insure that they receive their freedom. I enjoyed very much in the taking of those two individuals lives. . . . I don’t need society.”
Around the same time, a different account of what happened that night began to surface. Rumors circulated that more than a dozen people involved in a satanic cult had been in the Ellender home the night of the murders.
Others claimed that Prudhomme never committed suicide, but was instead choked to death in jail so that he wouldn’t implicate Richard McElveen, the son of the Calcasieu Parish sheriff. McElveen also was said to have been at the Ellenders’ home the night the crimes happened.
In the beginning of the investigation, Pam’s dad, Huey Littleton, was reportedly satisfied how police were handling the case. At first, Atkins was only charged with auto theft, but additional charges were tacked on, and he later pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2002 (he ended up getting probation for the offense). Then-sheriff Wayne McElveen wanted to close the case, but Littleton insisted that there were more people involved in the murders.
Littleton reportedly became increasingly frustrated with the authorities who handled the case, so much so that he began his own investigation, reportedly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money. A break came for Littleton in February of 1995, when the popular show “Unsolved Mysteries” ran a story about the Sulphur murders. The episode helped bring awareness of the killings to tons of viewers across the nation.
Still, without evidence, the case continued to stall, until Littleton met a young woman named Pearl Fruge, who told him that her cousin Kim Manuel admitted to taking part in the killings.
Armed with a recorded statement from Fruge, Littleton took the information to investigators. Manuel was arrested on suspicion of murder, but shortly afterward was released on her own recognizance when deputies claimed Fruge committed perjury.
It was at this point that something of a war broke out between Littleton and the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Department began. Littleton not only sued the sheriff’s office, but he made it clear that he thought Wayne McElveen was trying to close the case indefinitely to cover for his son.
It’s unclear if Richard McElveen was actually ever at the Ellender home, but in 1999, in a different case, he was accused of asking an inmate at the Calcasieu jail to kill another inmate who “knew too much” about his reported drug trafficking activities.
Sheriff McElveen reportedly purchased three advertisements in the local newspaper and spelled out his theory on how the murder was carried by one person, Prudhomme, and how evidence uncovered indicated it was simply a botched robbery. In turn, Littleton took out his own ad and wrote that the sheriff was involved in a cover-up of his son and was doing everything to keep the case frozen.
In 1996, Reese pleaded guilty to a felony count of being an accessory after the fact, and was sentenced to two years in prison. LeDoux decided to take his chances and went to trial, but in 1997, he, too, was convicted on the same charge as Reece and sentenced to four years in prison. Sheriff McElveen spoke out about the convictions: “What did they get? A couple of dopers who tried to cover up for Prudhomme. It’s like they were saving face.”
Authorities considered the case closed after the additional convictions. It’s unclear whether Littleton is still investigating the case, but even now, more than 20 years after the Ellenders’ gruesome deaths, the truth about the killings remains a subject of debate.
Photos: Unsolved Mysteries Wikia
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