A parent’s biggest nightmare is probably having their child kidnapped or sexually assaulted. After enduring both, Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based American father Gary Plauché did the unthinkable: he tracked down the person who kidnapped his son and shot him in the head. The murder was caught on camera, making Plauché’s act of retaliation a nationwide phenomenon.
During his trial, Plauché drew even more media attention. Onlookers assessed his character while a judge decided his destiny. Should he be applauded for getting rid of a dangerous criminal rather than accused of killing another man?
On November 10, 1945, Leon Gary Plauché was born in Baton Rouge. He held the rank of Staff Sergeant during his brief time in the American Air Force. Following his discharge from the military, Plauché worked as a cameraman for a local news station in addition to being an equipment salesman.
Overall, Plauché appeared destined to live a calm, routine life. Then everything changed one day.
Jody Plauché Is Taken By A Trusted Family Friend
On February 19, 1984, when his son Jody, then 11, was picked up for a ride by his karate instructor, Plauché’s life began to change dramatically. June Plauché was assured by Jeff Doucet, a 25-year-old man with a thick beard, that they would return in 15 minutes.
June Plauché had no cause to be skeptical of Doucet. He was well-liked in the neighborhood and taught karate to three of their four kids. As much as the boys appreciated being around him, Doucet also enjoyed being around them.
In a previous interview with his school newspaper, Jody Plauché declared, “He’s all of our best friend.” June claims that her son gave up basketball and football to devote as much time to Doucet’s dojo as possible.
She had no idea that Jody wasn’t being driven about the neighborhood by Jeff Doucet. By nightfall, the two were traveling to the West Coast aboard a bus. On the way, Doucet dyed Jody’s blonde hair black and shaved his beard. He wanted to disguise Jody as his own son while simultaneously evading the authorities who would soon find them.
In Anaheim, California, Doucet and Jody Plauché stayed in a budget motel that was close to Disneyland. Doucet attacked his karate pupil sexually inside the motel room. This continued until Doucet agreed when Jody begged to phone his parents. Jody’s parents called the police, who tracked the call and detained Doucet as Jody was being transported by plane.
Gary Plauché’s Murder Of Jeff Doucet Was Broadcast Live
YouTubeRight before confronting Jeff Doucet, the abductor and rapist of Gary Plauché’s son, on live television.
Gary Plauché was close with Mike Barnett, a Baton Rouge sheriff’s major who had assisted in finding Jeff Doucet and who decided to tell him what the karate instructor had done to his kid. Gary, in the words of Barnett, “had the same reaction most parents do when they find out their children have been raped or molested: He was horrified.”
I’ll kill that S.O.B., Plauché reportedly told Barnett, according to the Associated Press.
Plauché was still on edge even though his son had been located. He spent the following few days at a nearby bar called The Cotton Club asking patrons when they believed Doucet would be sent to Baton Rouge for trial. The disgraced karate instructor was scheduled to arrive at 9:08, according to Plauché’s former WBRZ News coworker who just so happened to be out for a drink.
To get to Baton Rouge Airport, Plauché drove. He wore a baseball cap and sunglasses as he entered the arrivals area. He approached a payphone while keeping his face covered. A WBRZ television crew prepared their cameras to capture Jeff Doucet being escorted out of his aircraft while he made a quick phone call.
Plauché grabbed a revolver from his boot and shot Doucet in the head as they passed by.
The WBRZ crew managed to capture footage of the bullet that Plauché fired through Doucet’s skull. Over 20 million people have watched on YouTube as Doucet lost consciousness and Barnett rapidly threw Plauché against a wall. As he disarmed his companion, the cop yelled at him, “Why, Gary, why’d you do it?”
“You would do it too if someone did it to your kid!” Plauché responded while sobbing.
Gary Plauché: True Hero Or Reckless Vigilante?
“I don’t want him to do it to other kids,” Plauché told his attorney, Foxy Sanders, while awaiting trial in jail. According to Sanders, he said the voice of Christ had compelled him to pull the trigger. Although Plauché had killed a child molester, murder was still murder in the eyes of the law. He had to be put on trial, and it wasn’t clear whether he would go free or go to prison.
Sanders was adamant that Plauché would not spend a single day locked up once the world learned how carefully Jeff Doucet had gone about grooming Jody Plauché. Sanders also argued Jody’s kidnapping had pushed his father into a “psychotic state,” in which he was no longer capable of distinguishing right from wrong.
The citizens of Baton Rouge didn’t agree. If you asked them, they said that Plauché was in his right mind when killing Doucet.
“From strangers in the street to the boys at The Cotton Club, where Gary Plauche used to drink Miller Lites,” wrote journalist Art Harris for The Washington Post that same year, the locals had already “acquitted him.”
One of these locals, Murray Curry, the captain of a steamboat, thought Plauché was anything but a murderer. He is a father who acted out of pride and love for his child. Curry contributed a small amount to a defense fund established by his neighbors to assist Plauché in returning his $100,000 bail and supporting his family while contesting the charges.
There was a resounding shift in favor of Plauché in the general public opinion. So much so that the judge chose not to sentence Plauché to a prison sentence when it came time for sentencing. He had said that doing so would have been ineffective. He was confident Plauché had no malice against anyone other than the already-dead Jeff Doucet.
The Plauchés’ Lives After The Vigilante Killing
Following his conviction for murder, Plauché received 300 hours of community service and five years of probation. Plauché was back to leading a mostly unnoticed normal life before he finished any of them. He suffered a stroke in 2014 and passed away in his late 60s.
According to his obituary, this man “saw beauty in everything, he was a loyal friend to all, always made others laugh, and was a hero to many.”
Jody Plauché, on the other hand, took some time to digest his assault but ultimately decided to write a book called Why, Gary, Why? about it. In it, Jody tells his side of the tale to help parents shield their kids from going through what he did.
Although he has come to accept what happened to him, Jody still thinks about the horrific events of his youth. That’s partly because the internet keeps reminding him of it. “I’ll post a cooking video on YouTube,” he said in an interview with The Advocate, “and someone will comment, ‘Your dad’s a hero.’ They won’t comment, ‘That gumbo looks great.’ They’ll just be, like, ‘Your dad’s a hero.’”