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Natchitoches arsonist apprehended in New Orleans

Press release

For immediate release: March 29, 2023

Baton Rouge, La.  – On March 17, 2023, a Natchitoches Parish man was apprehended in New Orleans by the United States Marshal Service Violent Offender Task Force.

Billy Ellerbe, Jr., of Natchitoches, was apprehended as a result of warrants for separate counts of arson by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) and the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office (NPSO). These charges resulted from a multi-agency investigation between the LDAF Forestry Enforcement Division and the NPSO.

During January 2023, multiple roadside and forest fires were set in Natchitoches Parish. These fires not only threatened timberland, homes, and a cemetery but also obstructed the flow of traffic on I-49 and surrounding roads and overpasses.

Investigators from the LDAF and NPSO made multiple separate attempts to apprehend Ellerbe before he eventually fled the parish. Investigators learned of Ellerbe’s location in New Orleans, and the United States Marshals Violent Offender Task Force was called in to apprehend him.

“Arson is a very serious crime and poses a great risk to both life and property,” said Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain, D.V.M. “Whether the arson is unintentional or deliberate, LDAF’s Forestry Enforcement Division works closely with partner agencies across the state to bring offenders to justice.”

Ellerbe was booked in the Orleans Parish jail as a fugitive and extradited to the Natchitoches Parish jail. He is charged with one count of arson by LDAF investigators for multiple fires set on January 27, one count of simple littering, and an additional count of arson by NPSO investigators for a fire set on February 10. At this time, no bond has been set for the LDAF charges. However, a $25,000 bond has been set for the NPSO charges.

All persons accused of any crime are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The public is urged to report all forestry-related crimes to LDAF’s 24-hour hotline at 1-855-452-5323.


Contact info

Jennifer Finley, Press Secretary