These days, trespassing just seems to go hand in hand with ghost hunting. Sure, there are many groups who go through the proper channels to gain access to property in order to investigate, but it seems like more and more self-styled ghost hunting groups are popping up, and ghost hunting is just one of the activities they are engaging in. Trespassing is usually a victimless crime, or at the very least, the only victims are the trespassers themselves. But in this instance, the would-be ghost hunters ended up destroying the LeBeau Plantation, an historic plantation house from the 1850s.
ARABI, La. – Seven people have been arrested in connection with a fire that destroyed the LeBeau Plantation house in St. Bernard Parish.
Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann said the suspects are believed to have been smoking marijuana and drinking in the vacant house when the fire broke out at about 2 a.m. Friday. St. Bernard Parish Fire Chief Thomas Stone said the building was fully engulfed in flames when he arrived on the scene.
Arrested are: Dusten Davenport, 31, of Fort Worth, Texas, booked with arson, simple burglary and criminal damage over $50,000; Joshua Briscoe, 20, of Grand Prairie, Texas, booked with arson, simple burglary and criminal damage over $50,000; Joseph Landin, 20, of Grand Prairie, Texas, booked with arson, simple burglary and criminal damage over $50,000; Jerry Hamblen, 17, booked with arson, simple burglary and criminal damage over $50,000; Joshua Allen, 21, of Grand Prairie, Texas, booked with arson, simple burglary and criminal damage over $50,000; Kevin Barbe, 20, of Arabi, booked with accessory to arson and criminal trespassing; and Bryon Meek, 29, of Gretna, booked with accessory to arson.
St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Col. John Duran said the men were apparently looking for ghosts at the mansion, which has long been the subject of ghost stories in St. Bernard.
“This is a devastating loss to the community,” Stone said. “It’s a fire chief’s worst nightmare.”
Stone grew up near the area. He said the property has been vacant for years. Only four chimneys were left standing once firefighters got the flames under control. Collapse zones were set up around the structure to keep responders safe.
No injuries were reported.
The Lebeau Plantation was built in the 1850s. It was once a hotel and was being considered for renovation. The Sugar Festival was held there each fall.
I’m guessing this will continue to be a problem for as long as ghost hunting is popular. More and more numbskulls like these seven people will illegally trespass into these historic sites and act irresponsibly, unfortunately potentially destroying history in the process.