When Brittany Cormier was confronted at home in Montegut, Louisiana, one evening in January by a man asking about a relative, she lied.
Whether she suspected the man was dangerous or it was simply instinct, the 34-year-old said she was the woman he was looking for. The decision ultimately cost Cormier her own life, but, authorities say, likely saved that of a rape survivor the man had been hired to kill before she could testify.
The hired killer, according to law enforcement, was 22-year-old Dalvin Wilson. Along with Andrew Eskine, 25, authorities say Wilson had been hired by Cormier’s brother, 35-year-old Beaux Cormier, to kill his niece. Cormier had been arrested the previous March for allegedly raping her.
But Brittany Cormier wasn’t alone that night, and law enforcement officials say Wilson shot and killed her neighbor, 37-year-old Hope Nettleton, too.
On Wednesday, a Terrebonne Parish grand jury was set to hear the wild double murder case, and District Attorney Joseph L. Waitz Jr. said he expects first-degree murder indictments to be handed down. The proceedings are highly anticipated in this close-knit community, which has been rocked by what authorities described as flagrant, botched attempts at the assassination of a rape victim.
“If I had to describe Brittany in only one word, it would be love.”
— Precious Ridenour
“This is a horrible crime; it needs to send a strong message to the community that this will not be tolerated at any level,” Waitz told The Daily Beast. He added that both Wilson and Eskine have confessed their involvement in the incident.
According to police, in September 2019, Beaux Cormier—a previously convicted sex offender—raped his niece. He allegedly engaged in witness intimidation involving his sister Brittany before being arrested in March.
Sometime after that, police say, Beaux Cormier hired the hitmen who ultimately landed at his sister’s doorstep.
Precious Ridenour, who has lived a few blocks away from Brittany Cormier and has been friends with her for almost a decade, said she remembers seeing emergency vehicles heading toward her friend’s house at about 10:30 p.m. on that Wednesday in January.
By 10:51, she said she sent her a text: “Hey girl, is everything ok over there.”
When she didn’t receive a response, she went over. Ridenour said she found the one-story house, where her daughter had spent many days and nights with Cormier’s daughter, swarming with police cars, the street blocked off, and yellow emergency tape strung up. When she found out what had happened, she was in shock.
“This is just so far out of the ballpark,” she told The Daily Beast. “Nobody was ever thought something like this would go on.”
According to Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Timothy Soignet, Beaux Cormier approached his two friends, Wilson and Eskine, about the murder-for-hire plot for a simple reason: He wanted to prevent his niece from testifying against him.
By that point, he had already been arrested for the sex crime, as well as the alleged witness intimidation involving his sister. But he bonded out that same day, March 6, 2020.
“I am confident that these guys will not see the light of day”
— Sheriff Timothy Soignet
Law enforcement reported that Wilson and Eskine were both financially compensated, but additional details about the amount, and when, were not available. Neither Wilson, Eskine, nor Beaux Cormier have listed attorneys. DA Waitz said members of the Cormier family have “declined to spend one cent on Beaux’s defense,” and family members of each defendant declined to comment or did not return messages seeking comment for this story.
Between July and November last year, the trio of accused men traveled out to Montegut to conduct surveillance, according to Sheriff Soignet. Then, in November, Wilson and Eskine allegedly drove out to commit the homicide, using a family member’s vehicle, only to be unsuccessful—seemingly due to a neighbor spotting them.
“He happened to be outside, saw the vehicle in front of that residence, and he was able to put notice that he knew them and they took off,” Sheriff Soignet said during a press conference on Feb. 1.
On Jan. 13, Wilson drove Eskine’s truck back to Montegut, according to Sheriff Soignet. Although he traveled without Eskine because the latter defendant was out of town at work, a law enforcement statement said Eskine “facilitated the vehicle and plan to carry out the murders.”
After allegedly shooting Brittany Cormier, Wilson was confronted by Nettleton. She “attempted to fight the gunman and was fatally shot,” according to a statement from the sheriff’s office. There were a total of five people in the home at the time of the shooting, none of whom were juveniles, according to authorities.
Almost as gruesome as the alleged crimes themselves was what came next: Days after the shooting, DA Waitz said, Beaux Cormier attended and served as a pallbearer at his sister’s church service.
Beaux Cormier has a long and extensive criminal history that, according to the local paper, The Advocate, involves charges of forcible rape, cyberstalking, armed robbery, and animal cruelty. The alleged victim in the forcible rape case, in which he ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge: a 12-year-old relative (he was at 17 at the time).
Over the last two weeks, DA Waitz said he met with both victims’ families, discussing what took place and helping them understand the process moving forward. He also broached the subject of seeking the death penalty, which he said will be a joint decision between him and the families. He said he has not asked for their input on that yet.
“There’s a lot of anger, there is a lot of emotion, and I was not going to put them in that trick bag to make that decision all of a sudden,” he told The Daily Beast. “I want a lot of thought. I want a lot of prayer.”
But when pressed about the chances of seeking the death penalty, DA Waitz said there’s a “high probability of it.”
All three defendants have already been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of criminal conspiracy to commit murder, and one count of attempted first degree murder. Beaux Cormier has also been charged with solicitation for murder for hire. The trio are being held without bond.
Members of the Cormier and Nettleton families declined to comment or did not return messages seeking comment. According to Nettleton’s obituary, “Hope was a devoted and loving wife, daughter, sister, friend, and most of all mother.”
Local law enforcement remarked on the scale of machinations that produced so much bloodshed.
“A double homicide, and one for hire, doesn’t happen much anywhere,” Sheriff Soignet said in an email to The Daily Beast. “This does not happen very often.”
“I am confident that these guys will not see the light of day,” he added.
According to Ridenour, she and Brittany Cormier had been friends ever since her daughter was in fourth grade and requested a playdate with the other woman’s daughter. They quickly bonded over their children and what Ridenour described as their “estranged” relationship with their families.
But Ridenour said she couldn’t think of a time when her friend had brought up her brother or given any indication that something like this could happen.
She said, “If I had to describe Brittany in only one word, it would be love.”
“And what happened to her is wrong.”