Death – 10 years after Jeanette Duhon’s death, the hunt for accused killer Joe Constance continues

Death – Obituary

Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – The decade-long search for Joe Constance has reached across the country, involved countless detectives and agencies, and has been the topic of multiple grand juries. Ten years with no answers to where the murder suspect could be.

When retired Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon died last week at age 70, he was working as a special investigator to track down Constance.

KPLC interviewed Dixon in the weeks before his sudden death about the work being done to locate the man accused of killing Mary Jeanette Duhon.

Today, we are sharing Dixon’s last interview.

“I’m not going to refer to him as his name, he doesn’t deserve that. I’ll refer to him as either ‘the fugitive’ or ‘the coward.’ “

Don Dixon was never one to mince his words. Thirty years as an FBI agent followed by nearly 20 at the helm of Lake Charles Police, Dixon was direct, dedicated and determined.

As a special investigator, he spent a few hours each week with the sole purpose of finding Joe Constance.

“It happened on June 5, 2011, but let me go back to June 4,” Dixon said.

It was a summer Saturday night Joe Constance spent out with friends. He was spotted in the early morning hours walking through the parking lot of a Lake Charles motel. That surveillance video was just released by the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Dixon said detectives pieced together a timeline of his movements that night: Constance went to his parents’ Cameron home to drop off a vehicle, took a shotgun and ammunition saying he was heading to shoot some owls in the backyard, and left in his truck.

“7:28 a.m. the first 911 calls come in, shot fired,” Dixon said.

Constance is accused of walking into a south Lake Charles home, confronting two residents, then taking aim at Mary Jeanette Duhon.

Mary Jeannette Duhon never got to see her daughter Victoria Shumaker get married or see her...
Mary Jeannette Duhon never got to see her daughter Victoria Shumaker get married or see her grandchildren. The hunt for her alleged killer continues 10 years after her death.(Duhon family)

As 7 News discussed the case with the former chief, he paused, “Everybody forgets about the victim – Mary Jeannette Duhon would be a grandmother now if she were alive.”

She and Joe were married but their relationship was ending. Constance was served with a protective order just a week before the homicide.

While reports refer to Duhon as Constance’s estranged wife, her daughter Victoria Shumaker said she was – and will always be – so much more.

“Also, everyone knew her as Jeanette,” Shumaker said. “No one called her Mary.”

She was kind, loving, known for her smile.

Shumaker said her mom missed so much these last 10 years. Shumaker got married and had children, all things she wishes Jeanette could have seen,

“I couldn’t just stop (living), she’d never want that for me,” she said.

Mary Jeannette Duhon never got to see her daughter Victoria Shumaker get married or see her...
Mary Jeannette Duhon never got to see her daughter Victoria Shumaker get married or see her grandchildren. The hunt for her alleged killer continues 10 years after her death.(Duhon family)

Jeanette, her children, her children’s children – the reasons Dixon was still working the case that at times seems impossible.

“Airplanes went up, helicopters searched that field, canines – which if they got the scent from the truck, the canines would have found him,” said Dixon.

In the hours and days after Mary Jeanette Duhon was killed south of Lake Charles, authorities...
In the hours and days after Mary Jeanette Duhon was killed south of Lake Charles, authorities searched for Joe Constance, the suspect in her death. But Constance wasn’t found then and 10 years later, the hunt for him continues.(KPLC)
In the hours and days after Mary Jeanette Duhon was killed south of Lake Charles, authorities...
In the hours and days after Mary Jeanette Duhon was killed south of Lake Charles, authorities searched for Joe Constance, the suspect in her death. But Constance wasn’t found then and 10 years later, the hunt for him continues.(KPLC)

Less than an hour after the shot was fired, Constance’s truck was found at a cattle guard off Fred Vail Road. His license, phone – even his dog – were all left behind, but not a trace of him.

“So, it’s a mystery. Did he have a boat waiting? Was he picked up by someone? I don’t know,” Dixon said, “He certainly vanished and he’s not in that field.”

Joe Constance's truck was found abandoned on Fred Vail Road on the morning of June 5, 2011 -...
Joe Constance’s truck was found abandoned on Fred Vail Road on the morning of June 5, 2011 – the same morning Constance is suspected of shooting and killing Mary Jeanette Duhon. With the truck were his personal items – his license, his phone, even his dog.(KPLC)

His rap sheet is littered with arrests from speeding to battery of a police officer, and Dixon said his “felon” status comes from his days running cocaine.

“Served some time in a Texas prison for transportation of cocaine, where he allegedly hooked up with some white supremacist groups,” Dixon explained one theory, “If he’s hooked up with a white supremacy group, they have compounds all over the country where they hide people.”

Despite 10 years without an answer, this case has been without leads.

“Possibly he was spotted in 2017 in El Paso, Texas, at a motorcycle club.”

Dixon said a tip came in and the witness even passed a polygraph test. Later, the witness recanted and another polygraph was administered. They failed.

Investigators followed the lead but still nothing concrete.

“So, is he alive or dead? I don’t know,” he said.

The investigators who first searched for Constance and all who’ve been part of this case in between say it sticks with them.

Dixon said grand juries have convened regarding the case but those proceedings are sealed.

“That’s the hardest part – the information we can’t know,” Shumaker said.

For Jeanette Duhon’s family, though certain of who’s responsible, not knowing the whereabouts of Joe Constance is the unanswered question they face every day. While they continue to mourn her death, they are comforted knowing there’s still someone on the hunt.

“You meet with the family and they look at you with hope, and you hope you can deliver, you know. I haven’t so far, but I’m not going to quit,” Dixon said, shaking his head in honesty, “I’m one stubborn guy.”

The tip line has rung over the last decade, but Dixon was still hoping for that one call that would change everything.

It’s a call that investigators still hope will come in.

To reach out directly to investigators with any information that might help the case, call (337) 707-TIP (8477).

Copyright 2021 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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What Is An Obituary

In national newspapers an obituary (obit for short) is a news article that reports the recent death of a prominent person. Although it tends to focus on positive aspects of the subject’s life this is not always the case. According to Nigel Farndale, the Obituaries Editor of The Times: “Obits should be life affirming rather than gloomy, but they should also be opinionated, leaving the reader with a strong sense of whether the subject lived a good life or bad; whether they were right or wrong in the handling of their public affairs.”

In local newspapers, an obituary may be published for any local resident upon death. A necrology is a register or list of records of the deaths of people related to a particular organization, group or field, which may only contain the sparsest details, or small obituaries. Historical necrologies can be important sources of information.