In the spring of 2008, a 58 year old woman named Barbara Blount was living a seemingly ordinary and peaceful life in Holden, Louisiana, a small town in Livingston Parish. She taught Sunday school at a local church and although she had been a widow for four years, she had several family members still living nearby and with whom she spent much of her time. Her adult son and daughter, Ricky and Kristie, lived along the same rural road as their mother. Her sister Sarah also lived in town, and Barbara frequently drove Sarah to her medical appointments. She had at least one nephew, Raymond, who lived nearby as well. She kept chicken and cattle on her property, and was generally described as a cautious and quiet person. She liked to work outdoors on her farm, collect dolls, and host regular dinners for her family members at her home. At this point, I do want to add that Barbara’s caution extended to her keeping a firearm in her house and taking it with her to feed the cows. Whether she had a reason for doing this beyond knowledge of her vulnerability as a woman living alone, we can only speculate at this point.
Four years previously, Barbara had lost her husband of thirty years, Henry Euel Blount Jr., in a horrific train accident. He had been driving a gasoline tanker for his employers, the Lard Oil Company, when the tanker was hit by a train, causing an explosion and killing two railway employees as well as Blount. As a result of this, the Railway Union had threatened a lawsuit against the Lard Oil Company. It is unclear as to what, if anything, was happening on the legal front in the spring of 2008, but some people have postulated a connection between this and what ultimately happened to Barbara. I’ll come back to this later.
The week of May 2nd was proving no more eventful then any other for Barbara and her family. Her son Ricky was gone for much of the day. He had left very early on the morning of the 2nd to start training for his new trucking job (at 2:00 am to be precise). Her daughter Kristie was also leaving for work in the late morning, and she stopped in to see her mother and drop off her dog for the day at 10:00 am, which apparently was habitual for her. At 11:30 am, Barbara spoke on the phone with one of her neighbors. She seemed to be fine at this point, and told her neighbor that she was in the middle of doing some spring cleaning. Kristie called to check on her mother around 1:00 or 1:30 pm, which was also common for the two of them, but Barbara did not answer. Kristie then tried to call her again about three hours later, but still received no response. At this point, she became concerned enough to call her cousin, Raymond, and ask him to check on Barbara.
As you may have assumed, Raymond didn’t find Barbara. What he did find was quite alarming, and as it would turn out, he would not be the only to report a disturbing scene that afternoon. Barbara’s home was isolated, at the end of a long driveway and none of the neighboring homes were within sight. Raymond would describe the door as “locked but open.” Apparently, this door needed to be shut very hard to latch, so I take Raymond’s description to mean that the door was in position to be locked and would have been locked if it had been shut harder. Now, precisely which door Raymond is referring to is a bit unclear. One source stated that is was the front door, another said it was the back door. I have seen yet another statement that the back door to the car port (not the house) was open, and it’s not clear if this was instead of or in addition to the house door. Multiple sources have stated that there was no sign of forced entry.
Inside the home, Barbara’s spring cleaning binge was evident. The cabinets were open and pots and pans were stacked on the kitchen floor. There was a partially open window in the bathroom, likely left open by Barbara to air out the home. There were several valuables clearly visible, including Barbara’s cell phone and the .38 revolver she took with her to feed the cows. The glasses that Barbara almost always wore when she left the home were found inside. Although there was no sign of robbery, Barbara’s purse and wallet were missing and have not been recovered to this day. Outside the home, Barbara’s car was not in its usual place in the car port, and the portable house phone was found on the ground outside. It appeared to have been dropped or thrown, and it’s dislodged batteries were lying nearby.
Even as Barbara’s worried family was preparing to contact law enforcement, two other calls were coming to the Sheriff’s office about Barbara’s 2006 Toyota Camry. A teenager coming home from school had spotted the Sunday school teacher’s car parked on a remote rural road (this is a very tightknit community). When he returned home, he told his mother about this strange scene, and she contacted the authorities. At 4:15 pm, mother and son met with deputies at the scene, which was approximately a quarter mile north of Barbara’s home. The road was leading to a hunting camp, and there was no logical reason for Barbara to have brought her car there and left it. Twenty yards from the car, the keys were found lying in the road, partially covered with gravel.
There had been another sighting reported to Crimestoppers by a male caller, this one of Barbara herself. He apparently described her as standing outside her car in the same place it was found, wearing an outfit consistent with what she was believed to be wearing that day (a tank top, pin-striped shorts, and purple Crocs). In this account, there is no mention of a second car or another person with Barbara. There is another, very detailed witness report involving the car, Barbara, and her probable abductor, but I will come to that shortly.
Even as the sheriff’s deputies investigated the car, the weather was starting to destroy potential evidence. The humid spring morning was giving way to a thunderstorm, and the afternoon May 2nd was marked by “torrential” rains that would continue for the next few days. According to one source, a full twelve inches of rain fell within the span of an hour. The floor of Barbara’s car flooded, and the rain swept through the surrounding woods fields.
The circumstances of Barbara’s disappearance were ominous enough that law enforcement began investigating it quickly. Her family insisted that someone was cautious as she was would not have opened to the door to someone she did not know or trust. The family was interviewed extensively, as were contractors who had done past work on Barbara’s property. Investigators searched the wooded areas around the car location with cadaver dogs and ground penetrating radar, but no trace of the missing woman was found. A theory began to form that someone had lured Barbara from her home on pretext, and then abducted her.
This is where the third sighting I referred to comes into play. In the early afternoon of May 2nd, a couple named Wesley and Terrie Collins were driving on Louisiana Highway 1036. They did not know Barbara, but they had been visiting with relatives in Holden and were trying to get ahead of the deteriorating weather and get back home to Alabama. The couple rounded a bed in the road and passed the gravel track where Barbara’s car would be found. It had started to rain by then, what Terrie described as a “misty rain.” Unfortunately, the precise time of the sighting does not seem to be specified anywhere. The couple noticed two vehicles parked there, one behind the other. The rearmost vehicle was a “full size truck. Not new, but not old. Maybe a 1998.” It appeared to be a silver Ford. The other vehicle was not described in detail but has been assumed to be Barbara’s car based on the location as well as other details. A woman meeting Barbara’s description was standing on the driver’s side of the truck, seeming to speak to someone inside the truck through the window. She was holding a set of car keys in her hand, as well as something else that Terrie thought were a set of eyeglasses (given that Barbara’s own glasses were found in her home, this is unlikely). The woman watched the Collins pass by and smiled, but the couple thought something seemed “off” about the entire scene. The driver of the truck was said be wearing mirrored sunglasses, and his hair was light, “blonde or bleached with dark roots, almost in a bowl cut.” He was described as having a narrow, “kind of sunken” face. He turned away when the couple’s vehicle passed, as though trying to avoid eye contact. If Wesley and Terrie could get a clear view of the man’s face and then see him turning away, this seems to suggest that he had his head all the way out of his truck window to speak to Barbara.
Sheriff Jason Ard has been very vocal about this case, and he is of the opinion that Barbara was taken out of the area. Even with the heavy rains following her disappearance, the woods and fields of Livingston Parish were searched extensively by all available methods, including ground penetrating radar. For him and for many people who have investigated this case, the most reasonable explanation for why no trace of her was ever found was because she had been taken someplace outside the search radius–possibly far outside of it. While I feel obligated to include the usual caveat about how deceptive wild, vegetated areas can be, I do think this is a point worth considering.
I see little purpose in discussing seriously any possibility that doesn’t involve foul play. To do otherwise would be to dismiss the overwhelming bulk of the evidence and invite the kind of ludicrous speculations that might be technically possible but are too infeasible for me to spend time on. So I think the question is one of who took Barbara as well as why and how they did. It’s also quite difficult for me to read this as a random crime. Barbara was at home during the middle of the day, in a remote area. Whoever took her from her home that day was most likely seeking her, not simply seeking someone to abduct. I suppose its also possible that she was the victim of some kind of mistaken identity situation, but there is really nothing to support this.
One detail that I simply don’t know what to do with is the Crimestopper sighting of Barbara. Why was it necessary to call at all simply to report a woman standing next to her car on a rural road? The description of Barbara was so detailed–and, apparently, accurate–yet the other car and driver from the Collins sighting are absent. If there is any truth in the report at all, I can only explain it in one of two ways. Either the caller somehow didn’t notice the other car vehicle and the man driving it or didn’t report on them in any detail, or these elements were not present at the time. The latter opens the door to the possibility that Barbara arrived at the spot before the unknown man did. There were plenty of signs of a hasty departure at her home, but that does not necessarily mean that she was forced from her house. She may have been drawn out on some kind of pretext which resulted in her driving on her own to the hunting camp road, at which point the Silver Ford Man (I’m done with finding synonyms for him) followed her and drove up the road behind her. It’s also possible that SFM was working with an unknown third person who was still inside Barbara’s car, after having either driven her there or forced her to drive them to that point.
Another point that is not entirely clear is the time the abduction took place. We know that it happened sometime after 11:30 am and before the Collins sighting, and that Barbara was almost certainly gone from the residence by the time her daughter called her in the early afternoon. We know her car was abandoned on the gravel road by 4:15 pm. What’s missing (besides the precise time of the Collins sighting) is the last time someone passed the gravel road and did not see either Barbara or her car there. This piece of information would help to determine when Barbara left her house and also if she and her likely abductors went directly to the gravel road after leaving her home.
Ultimately, I think it all comes down to who had the motive to make Barbara disappear. This is where I reach a dead end, because, to the best of all publicly available knowledge, there simply isn’t anyone. The closest anyone has been able to produce is the Railway Union, but four years had passed since Henry Blount’s accident at that point. In any case, it seems that the Union would have more to gain by seeking financial compensation through legal action rather than by abducting and murdering Henry Blount’s widow. The rest is speculation. One detail that nags at me is that Barbara was known to carry a firearm when going outside to do routine farm chores. I can’t help but wonder if she had a specific reason for doing so, perhaps one she never confided in her family. Did she believe she had reason to be afraid of some of her neighbors? If so, it seems unlikely she would have willingly left the house with them. That being said, she might have opened the door not knowing who was there or the person could have said something that convinced Barbara to let down her guard. Maybe they said that they or another neighbor needed help or something else that sounded innocuous, even coming from someone she did not fully trust.
I alluded to the possibility previously, and I think there may be something to the idea that more than one person was involved. Consider the following (completely hypothetical) scenario: Barbara is interrupted at home by someone she knows, and sees no reason not to open the door. It could even be that the door was unlocked, and the person entered on their own. Barbara is either forced or enticed to come outside, at which point a second person forces her into her own car and has her drive to the gravel road site. Maybe she just got done speaking with the neighbor and still had the phone in her hands, or else she had grabbed the phone in an attempt to call for help or to get more information from someone about why the unknown people had come to her house (for instance, maybe she had been told that a family member was hurt or sick, and she was trying to call that person herself). One of the people with her stops her from calling, knocking the phone out of her hands and causing the batteries to pop out when it hits the ground. Silver Ford Man follows Barbara’s car to the gravel road, they both park there, and they have the interaction witnessed by the Collins. It should be noted that at this point Barbara did not seem frantic, so it may be that she still believed the situation was legitimate. At some point, the SFM and his accomplice force Barbara into the Ford, and in the struggle she drops her car keys on the road. She is then taken to some point outside of the immediate area, maybe outside and of Livingston Parish, and murdered and disposed of in an unknown location.
Barbara now has four grandchildren, none of whom she ever got to meet. Her family remains haunted and baffled by what happened to her on that spring day in 2008. In my completely amateur opinion, this case, while getting cold, is still far from unsolvable. We’re talking about a crime that occurred a little less then fourteen years ago, within a small tight-knit community. This isn’t exactly something that that has fallen outside of living memory. In fact, I suspect there is at least one living person–and probably more–that know exactly what happened. If you have any information about the 2008 vanishing of Barbara Blount, I have included the relevant contact information below.
Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office (225) 686-2241 x 1
Greater Baton Rouge Crimestoppers: (225) 344–7867