Filming begins for documentary on 1928 hangings at DeRidder’s Gothic Jail

Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 8:32 PM CDT
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DERIDDER, La. (KPLC) - The first double execution in Beauregard Parish happened in 1928, and to this day, the parish has not witnessed another. It’s a story of two friends and a robbery gone wrong, and years later, a documentary about the story is in the works.

Nearly 100 years later, a reenactment is being filmed of Joe Genna’s last moments before being pulled from his cell to be hanged in the middle of the spiral staircase in the Gothic Jail.

In 1926, Genna and accomplice Molton Brasseaux confessed to luring 45-year-old taxi driver J.J Brevell to a remote area in Beauregard Parish, beating him to death and robbing him for all he had – just $14.

“It was considered the most heinous crime committed, so they were sentenced for execution here to set an example as to what happens to you should you commit those kinds of crimes here in our parish, cause we were a new parish, we had just separated from Imperial Calcasieu just about 10 years before, so it was kind to set an example that you don’t do that here in Beauregard Parish,” Beauregard Tourist Commission Administrative Coordinator Cleo Martin said.

Local actor Robert Goodson said to prepare for his role as Genna, he watched a lot of death row documentaries to get into character and understand the mindset of someone preparing for execution.

“When we first toured the place and got to go upstairs to where the actual noose was and where they were hung from, it gave a very real and surreal type of feeling that makes it easy to jump into the character,” Goodson said.

Scott Olivier, who is playing Brasseaux, explained how he was able to get into character.

“I just read up about the case, and learned about the relationship between Joe and Molton and just took direction from the people I’m working with,” he said.

This film will serve as part of the tour of the Gothic Jail.

“Anyone that visits the jail will get to see a little piece of history made. As far as I know, this will be one of the first times that the hangings have been reenacted,” film director Julian Quebedeaux said.

Quebedeaux explained how the public will be able to see the reenactment.

“The way people will be able to view the videos is actually by taking a tour through the jail, and as you tour through jail when you approach the gallows, there will be a QR code. So you would scan the QR code and it would play what we’re shooting today, which is a reenactment of Joe Genna and Molton Brassaeux being hung,” he said.

Joe Genna was buried in Orange Grove Cemetery in Lake Charles, and to this day Molton Brasseaux’s burial location has not been discovered.