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Covington police release details on murder of retired priest and associate

WGNO
WGNO
 2022-12-02

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COVINGTON, La ( WGNO ) — The Covington Police Department released new details about a double homicide investigation in which both victims’ bodies were also burned. The St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office also released the remaining identity of one of the victims.

During an afternoon news conference on Thursday (Dec. 1) that included St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper and Covington Mayor Mark Johnson, the coroner released the identity of the second victim in the case, Ruth Prats, who he also said was beaten to death.

Previously this week, Coroner Charles Preston identified the other victim as retired priest Otis Young. Preston said Young was beaten and stabbed.

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Both victims’ bodies were discovered behind Dependable Glass Works on E. Gibson Street when the business opened Monday morning. Both bodies were burned beyond recognition, but police already had an idea on where to begin their investigation.

During Thursday’s news conference, Lt. Kevin Collins with the Covington Police Department said that the case actually began on Sunday evening (Nov. 27) when someone called and reported a hit and run by the Bogue Falaya Towers building along the Tammany Trace. Someone reported seeing a white Honda that ran into some signs in the area and then left the scene. Police responded to the scene and were given the car’s license plate number by a witness.

When police checked the license plate for the vehicle’s registration information, they found out Prats was the owner. After unsuccessfully locating her, they reached out to family members who also said they were unable to reach her.

Missing priest identified as one of two burned bodies found in downtown Covington

Covington police arranged to meet family members of Prats at her home on South Washington Avenue. When they called Prats’ cell phone, it was located in a nearby dumpster.

Then around 3:45 Sunday morning, police located Prats’ car at the Walgreens parking lot on Bus. Hwy 190. Inside the car, police say, was Antonio Tyson and a woman who was not Prats. Police detained both of them. Police later determined the woman had no involvement in the case.

Next, police learned that retired priest Otis Young was with Prats on Sunday and was also missing. Then both of their burned bodies were found behind the Covington glass business.

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During the course of their investigation, police found video of Prats’ car during the hit and run incident. Next they found other video clips that showed the suspect, Tyson, riding on a bicycle by Prats’ home, circling back to speak with Young, then riding away.

About 15 minutes later, Tyson returns, according to police, and is seen on video with a knife behind his back while appearing to enter Prats’ home. About an hour later, Prats’ car is seen as its driven to the back of the home, police say Tyson is seen in the video driving Prats’ car away from the house. Police also confirmed to WGNO News that Prats and Young were inside the vehicle.

Hundreds gather for Holy Hour following double homicide in Covington

Police say they also located video that shows Tyson filling a container with fuel at a gas station.

The coroner said that Young’s identity was confirmed by comparing a chest x-ray from his body to another one taken after a previous heart surgery.

“We took the chest x-ray we obtained here, his post-operative chest x-ray, and the sternal wires lined up exactly,” Preston said.

The coroner said his team needed additional time to confirm Prats’ identity which required a DNA sample from one of her daughters. Preston said the in-house DNA lab at the coroner’s office was able to confirm the identity.

Tyson was booked with first degree murder and kidnapping, among other charges.

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