Rapides grand jury indicts Oakdale man in 1980 cold case

Rapides grand jury indicts Oakdale man in 1980 cold case
Leo Laird (left) and Gary Haymon (right) have been arrested for the 1980 murder of Donna Gayle Brazzell (center). (Source: Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office)

RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB / KPLC) - A Rapides Parish grand jury has indicted an Oakdale man in a cold case murder that investigators believe they solved last year.

Leo Laird, 64 of Oakdale, has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree rape, and aggravated kidnapping for the 1980 death of 18-year-old Donna Gayle Brazzell in Gardner. The grand jury returned a true bill on Tuesday.

Brazzell’s remains were found in November 1980, but went unidentified until 2019 when the LSU FACES Lab in Baton Rouge and a relative were able to make a positive identification. The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office made the announcement about the identification and the arrests of Laird and a co-defendant, Gary Joseph Haymon, 54, of Oakdale, back in August. Haymon is currently serving a 49-year sentence in another case.

Laird is being represented by George Higgins. The case is being prosecuted by Christopher Bowman.

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