Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Blue on Blue: Murder, Madness and Betrayal in the NOPD

Crime Scene Chaos

Chau Vu
Chau Vu
As soon as they heard the explosion of gunshots from the dining room, 23-year-old Chau Vu and her 18-year-old brother Quoc ran and hid in the restaurant's walk-in cooler. Chau slammed the door shut as Quoc killed the lights. The two of them huddled in the cold darkness.

Crime scene drawing, Cuong & Ha murders
Crime scene drawing, Cuong & Ha murders

Through the glass doors at the front of the cooler and a window overlooking the kitchen, the pair caught glimpses of Frank and LaCaze as they rummaged for cash. They heard shouting, crying, more gunshots. Then silence.

Kim Anh kitchen crime scene

After she was sure Frank and LaCaze had left, Chau crawled into the dining room. Her cell phone was in her purse on a shelf beneath the bar. She saw Ronnie Williams body on the floor.

Crime scene drawing, Williams murder
Crime scene drawing, Williams murder
"I saw Ronnie was lying with all the blood around him. That's when all my confidence was gone because the person that protects us was lying right there," Chau later said.

Chau grabbed her cell phone and scrambled back into the cooler. She dialed 911 but couldn't get through. She called a friend and begged him to call the police for her. The friend asked what happened. The battery in Chau's phone died.

Quoc slipped out the back door and ran to a friend's house to call police. On the way out, he passed the bloody bodies of his brother and sister.

Several blocks away, Frank was fuming. "One of the bitches got away," she told LaCaze.

Frank had seen Chau and Quoc inside the restaurant when she and LaCaze went in, but she'd lost sight of them and couldn't find them again.

After dropping LaCaze off at his apartment, Frank drove to the 7th District. There, she hopped into a patrol car and raced back to the restaurant. She had a second gun a .38 revolver tucked into the waistband of her jeans.

Sgt. Eddie Rantz
Sgt. Eddie Rantz
Sgt. Eddie Rantz, who supervised the homicide investigation, says, "There's no doubt in my mind she went back there to kill the rest of them."

Whether that was Frank's intent, she never got the chance.

Chau hid in the cooler until she saw police officers in the parking lot; then she bolted out the front door and dove into the arms of Detective Yvonne Farve.

Frank stayed at the restaurant. She caught a break because Chau was so scared she would only speak Vietnamese at first.

In the initial confusion at the crime scene, lead investigators Sgt. Eddie Rantz and Det. Marco Demma had no idea that the young 7th District officer was one of the shooters. They thought they had caught a break because one of their witnesses was a trained police officer.

When the detectives questioned her, Frank told them she had been in the kitchen getting something to drink when she heard gunshots in the dining room. She said she tried to push all the employees out through the back door.

Ha and Cuong wouldn't leave, Frank said. They stayed in the kitchen. Frank told Rantz she drove to the 7th District station to report the shooting.

But Frank had a cell phone and a police radio with her. Why didn't she call, instead of wasting time driving to the station? Rantz asked. Why did she leave everybody, including a wounded police officer, behind?

"That's when she started talking about Rogers LaCaze," Rantz says. Frank wasn't a witness, the veteran detective realized. She was a suspect. "I wanted to vomit," Rantz recalls.

Soon enough, Chau calmed down and told her story in English. Quoc returned to the restaurant and also told the detectives what happened.

Chief Richard Pennington
Chief Richard Pennington
Rantz and Demma had heard enough. Rantz approached Chief Richard Pennington in the parking lot. Pennington, a veteran detective, had been on the scene for a while but was letting the detectives run the show. "I told the chief, 'We're about to book this motherfer with three counts of first-degree murder,'" Rantz says.

Later, at police headquarters, with a tape recorder in front of her, Antoinette Frank confessed to shooting Ha and Cuong Vu in the kitchen of the Kim Anh restaurant. Her justification was simple: Rogers LaCaze made her do it.

Antoinette Frank in custody
Antoinette Frank in custody

The robbery, Frank said, was all LaCaze's idea. He'd been talking about it for a couple of weeks. She just went along with it because she didn't know what else to do.

Although ballistic evidence later proved the same 9mm pistol was used to murder all three victims, Frank refused to admit to shooting Officer Ronald Williams. She blamed that murder on LaCaze.

Detectives found LaCaze at his brother's apartment in Gretna just a few hours after the murders. It turned out that about 45 minutes after LaCaze left the Kim Anh restaurant, he used Officer Williams's credit card to buy $15 worth of gas at a station three blocks from his brother's apartment.

Cop & Rogers LaCaze at Kim Anh restaurant
Cop & Rogers LaCaze at Kim Anh restaurant

After his arrest, LaCaze admitted that he went into the restaurant with a gun but denied that he shot anyone. Frank, he said, committed all three murders. He just happened to be there.

 

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