But then about a week later two men hunting frogs discovered a body in the shallow water near the shore of Lake Palourde. It was James LeBoeuf. He had been shot and thrown into the water "weighed down with angle irons," according to press reports.
Authorities said he would never have been found if he'd been thrown into deeper water.
Indeed, whoever did the deed thought they were dropping poor James into deep water. What they hadn't figured on was that the remnants of the Great Flood of 1927 - the worst flood ever to swamp south Louisiana - were still swelling the lake, causing high water in places that usually weren't that high. The body was uncovered when the floodwater finally drained away.
As he began his investigation, St. Mary Parish Sheriff Charles Pecot found out that Ada LeBouef and Dr. Thomas Dreher apparently had an extra-special physician-patient relationship. Ada insisted throughout the investigation that Dreher was just "the old family doctor," but did not explain why she put a pillow case on her window when her husband was home and removed it when he was gone.
Even though Dreher was a prominent Morgan City physician and civic leader, he became a key suspect. And Ada began changing parts of her story after hours of grilling by the sheriff.
She told him that she and her husband had gone boating in separate pirogues on the night of his disappearance and that two strangers showed up and shouted , "Is that you, Jim?" She said they fired two shots, killing her husband, but that she hadn't reported it because she was afraid.,
That didn't cut the mustard with the sheriff, and she and the doctor were both arrested.
At her trial, Ada continued to maintain that Dreher was nothing more than the family doctor, but did admit that her husband was, for no reason at all, terribly jealous of him. She said that James once dressed in his wife's clothes and rode around Morgan City at dusk with a shotgun at his side, hoping Dreher would see him, mistake him for Ada, and do something that would justify being shot.
When that story raised eyebrows, Ada came up with yet another one: That on the Friday James disappeared, she sent a note to the doctor telling him that she and her husband would be on the lake that night. She said the doctor and Jim Beadle, whom Dreher called his "Man Friday," did the actual shooting, but in self-defense.
Beadle said both Ada and the doctor were full of bull; he'd been home with his family that night.
Ada tried another tale. This time she said that the meeting on Lake Palourde was supposed to be a reconciliation between her husband and Dreher. Beadle came to the meeting with the doctor, she said, and that Beadle shot back in self-defense after her husband shot first at him.
Beadle held to his story that he wasn't anywhere near the lake that night.
The jury didn't believe anybody. Ada and Dr. Dreher were sentenced to hang. Beadle got life in prison.
Gov. Huey Long set the hanging date for Dec. 22, 1928, but after some legal wrangling changed it to Jan. 5, 1929. He said it would be too depressing to have a double hanging three days before Christmas.
There was more legal maneuvering to come, but the executions were finally set for Feb. 1, 1929.
One hour before the appointed time, Dreher walked into Ada's cell and said calmly, "Good-bye Miss Ada, I hope to meet you in heaven."
"Good-bye, doctor," she replied with a smile.
Ada LeBoeuf was hanged at 12:05 p.m. The "old family doctor" was hanged 20 minutes later. Jim Beadle was released from prison in April 1939 and died within a few years.
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at email@example.com or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.