Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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

Looking Back

A decade after the case that rocked the New Orleans Police Department and outraged the city and the nation, much has changed.

Under Chief Richard Pennington, the police department completely revamped its hiring practices. It weeded out bad officers and hired good ones. Under Chief Eddie Compass, the healing process continues.

Chief Eddie Compass
Chief Eddie Compass

Still, as bad as the old hiring system was, in the case of Antoinette Frank, it worked  at least initially. The police department had a minimum of four glaring indicators of Frank's unsuitability for the job before they hired her.

Lying on her application and pre-employment interview, two failed psychological evaluations, her disastrous interview with the department psychiatrist, her strange disappearance and half-hearted suicide note  all were well known to NOPD before they offered Frank a job.

So, why did they hire her?

In the early 1990s, the department was severely short handed. They needed anybody who could fit into a police uniform. Crime was ripping the city apart. In 1994  the year before the Kim Anh murders  New Orleans was the murder capital of the United States. The residency requirement restricted the police department to hiring only those applicants who lived within Orleans Parish. To this day, that policy still prevents NOPD from hiring well-qualified officers who live in surrounding parishes.

Louisiana map with Orleans Parish
Louisiana map with Orleans Parish

And in a city that often simmers with racial tensions, Antoinette Frank, as a black female, fit the profile they were looking for. Hiring her allowed the police department to chalk up one more hash mark for their nonexistent, never-talked-about quota system.

Antoinette Frank, younger
Antoinette Frank, younger
As to why she did what she did, Frank now says it's her father's fault. She claims to have suffered years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at his hands. It's a claim she only recently started making.

But a psychiatrist who examined Frank in 1995 and again in 1999 said she showed symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder with anti-social features. According to the psychiatrist, Frank exhibits a lack of empathy toward others, a feeling of entitlement, flies into rages, and is manipulative in relationships.

Rogers LaCaze has a simpler diagnosis. In a letter from prison, he said, Antoinette is crazy. Hell, she killed her own dad and buried him under her house.

After 27 years on the job, Eddie Rantz retired. He went to law school and has a spacious office on Poydras overlooking the Superdome. Sometimes he still thinks about the case and about Antoinette Frank.

She is, without a doubt, the most cold-hearted person Ive ever met, Rantz says.

Prosecutors Glen Woods and Elizabeth Teel are both in private practice. Teel says the LaCaze and Frank trials were the most traumatic of her career. Id be lying if I said it wasnt personal.

Vu family remembers
Vu family remembers
In his office, Woods keeps a picture of Ha and Cuong Vu. "It's shocking the way they died," he says. The picture reminds him of the evil that exists in the world.

Vu family victims memorial
Vu family victims memorial

Mary Williams, wife of Officer Ronnie Williams, is busy raising their two boys, Christopher and Patrick. She has grown very close to the Vu family. They see each other often.

Ronald Williams memorial
Ronald Williams memorial

The Vus still own the Kim Anh restaurant.

Antoinette Frank prison ID
Antoinette Frank prison ID
Antoinette Frank and Rogers LaCaze are on death row, waiting to die and blaming everyone else, including each other, for what happened.

As for those human bones unearthed beneath Frank's house, so far, authorities have made no serious effort to identify them. The 10-year-old case, they say, remains under investigation.

copyright - Chuck Hustmyre

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