Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

A Louisiana couple has been arrested in connection with a case involving the attempted murder of a 15-year-old girl, according to reports.

On April 20, Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Tim Soignet said the teen was found badly burned, shot multiple times and “clinging to life” following a vehicle crash in Baytown, Texas.

Baytown authorities received calls that the vehicle was driving recklessly on Interstate 10 before crashing on a service road.

The suspects, 40-year-old Latonya Harris and her boyfriend, 41-year-old Terrence Washington, who was driving the car, were taken into custody.

Soignet called burns to the girl’s upper body “gruesome.”

An investigator in Baytown described the teen’s injuries, which included gunshot wounds to the chest and face, as the “worst she has seen in her entire career.”

During an interview, Washington reportedly admitted to sexually abusing the victim for “numerous months” while also saying he shot the victim during an argument with Harris at their home in Thibodaux.

Police said Washington told them that he was holding a gun in his hand, and it went off, striking the girl in the face.

According to Soignet, Washington initially told detectives he was also responsible for burning the girl in February of this year, and the couple was treating it at home.

Soignet said the couple was with the victim and another minor child while they were leaving Louisiana for Texas when the crash happened.

After the parents’ arrest, the minor was taken home to Louisiana by a family member with the victim being treated at an area hospital.

Detectives said they learned of “gruesome” details regarding the teen girl being shot on two separate occasions within the couple’s home, which went untreated as the family traveled to Texas.

A search warrant was issued for the family’s home. Investigators said they found evidence of a shooting with blood and a “strong odor of infection and decomposing flesh.”

In a second interview with Washington, he reportedly backtracked and told detectives that Harris was to blame for the sexual abuse against the victim and for setting her on fire.

Harris refused to speak with detectives after being released from a Texas hospital and taken into custody. The 40-year-old was booked for attempted first-degree murder, second-degree cruelty to a juvenile and domestic abuse battery child endangerment. She is being held on a $1 million bond.

Washington was booked for two counts of attempted first-degree murder, second-degree cruelty to a juvenile, obstruction of justice, molestation of a juvenile, three counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and five counts of second-degree rape.

Washington remains in the Harris County Detention Center on charges connected to crimes in Texas. He will later be remanded to the custody of Terrebonne Parish authorities.

Soignet said the investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are not known at this time.

“This is the type of case that is not only difficult to deal with the circumstances but hard to imagine the level of violence and evil that can occur at the hands of a human being,” he said. “I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to have these extremely violent offenders in custody.”

Baytown Police Chief John Stringer added, “Anytime a child suffers abuse at the hands of a family member or household member, it is both tragic and incomprehensible. When the very people whom a child should be able to trust for protection and love abuse them. We wish both physical and psychological healing for the victim of this horrific crime.”

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born | buffygunner@illicitdeeds.com