La. convict accused of orchestrating double murder from prison

From left: Toronzo "Tonto" Thompkins, 35; Traveyon Blackledge, 18; Jerrard Major, 35.
Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office via CBS affiliate WWL

THIBODAUX, La. — Three Lafourche Parish men have been arrested for their alleged roles in a September double murder after investigators learned a convicted drug dealer ordered his son and an associate to kill the lead witness prior to his trial.

The Houma Courier reports 35-year-old Toronzo "Tonto" Thompkins is accused of orchestrating the murders of 41-year-old Nikki Landry and 54-year-old Harry Lefort, both of Larose, La. The victims were found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in Landry's apartment in September 2013. Police said Landry was the primary target in the slaying.

Authorities say Thompkins allegedly instructed his 18-year-old son, Traveyon Blackledge, and 35-year-old Jerrard Major to kill Landry, who was scheduled to testify in Thompkins' trial for crack cocaine distribution.

According to the Courier, Thompson was initially arrested in April 2011 in an investigation targeting cocaine dealers in Lafourche dubbed Operation Dry Bayou. Agents had videotape of Landry, a police informant, buying drugs from Thompkins. He was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

When Thompkins discovered Landry had been working for police, he told his son to kill her, offering money to help, police told the Courier.

Lafourche sheriff's spokesman Brennan Matherne says Blackledge confessed to the alleged crimes during questioning. Both he and Major face two counts of first-degree murder and are being held without bond at the Lafourche jail.

The Courier reports that Blackledge was arrested Thursday and Major was arrested on Sunday. All three men are charged with two counts of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life prison sentence.