NEW IBERIA, La. (KPEL News) - Nearly five years since an retired principal was murdered in her home in Morgan City, justice is being carried out against her killer.

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In a case that spanned several states including Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Florida, 16th Judicial District Attorney Bo Duhe's Office says 70-year-old Patricia Lynn Russo's handyman - Michael Lee Guidry - not only left her dead but he stole her bank card after he murdered her on October 1, 2018. Russo was found dead by her housekeeper.

“This lady came out of the front of the house and she's waving her hands. And another woman came out and said ‘there’s a dead woman, dead woman. There’s blood everywhere!'” said a neighbor, Pete Covington to our news partners at KATC.

Patricia Russo, KATC
Patricia Russo, KATC
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Guidry was the last person who spoke with Russo and his vehicle was seen on neighborhood surveillance video around the time of the murder. It didn't take Guidry long to use her bank card as he used it an ATM in Morgan City six minutes after leaving the neighborhood. Subsequent surveillance video and the victim’s bank records showed Guidry using her bank card at gas stations and casinos in Louisiana, Texas, and Florida.

Days later, Guidry’s vehicle was found abandoned on the side of Interstate 10 in
Harrison County, Mississippi. Guidry was found hiding in a closet inside a family member’s residence the following day in Independence, La. and placed under arrest.

16th Judicial District Court in New Iberia, google street view
16th Judicial District Court in New Iberia, google street view
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It took four days but a jury unanimously found Guidry guilty of Manslaughter on Friday, August 25. Guidry is scheduled to be sentenced on October 10, 2023, at 9:00 AM. He faces up to 40 years of hard labor.

The investigation was handled by Morgan City Police Department. Assistance was
provided by the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office and scientific analysis was performed by the
Acadiana Criminalistics Laboratory. Assistant District Attorneys Brady Holtzclaw and Jennifer Reasoner prosecuted the case with assistance from Heather Hendrix and Katie Williams.

As KATC points out, Russo was a St. Mary Parish educator serving principal of Maitland Elementary in Morgan City from 1988 to 1991, principal of J.S. Aucoin Elementary in Amelia from 1991 to 2001 and Instructional Specialist for St. Mary Parish public schools from 2001 until her retirement in 2004, according to Leonard Armato, St. Mary Parish Superintendent.

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