A Louisiana family decided to take justice into their own hands on Friday — and it was all captured on camera.
Marcus Arceneaux cradled his frightened niece, Bethany Arceneaux, in his arms as he tenderly placed her in a car. Blood ran down Bethany’s face and she held a cloth to her neck to stem the flow. But she was home. She was safe.
Bethany’s two-day ordeal began on Wednesday evening when her ex-boyfriend, Scott Thomas, took her hostage. The 29-year-old from Duson was the mother of his child and allegedly a victim of years of domestic abuse at his hands.
Thomas, also 29, allegedly grabbed Bethany while she was near a day care center. He shoved the woman into his car, leaving his 2-year-old child abandoned inside Bethany’s vehicle.
Thomas then drove Bethany to an abandoned home in an isolated area of the town. It was hidden away from the road by a large oak tree. But what he didn’t count on was Bethany’s family fighting back.
The Arceneauxs organized a search effort for the woman. They posted flyers throughout their town and sent out rescue missions. They were passing near Thomas’ hiding spot when they heard a woman yell from inside.
About a dozen family members stormed into the home. When Thomas began stabbing his ex-lover, it sparked a confrontation.
Lafayette Parish police are still investigating what happened next. According to KLFY, the family members say they shot Thomas to prevent him from killing Bethany.
“I can just imagine how chaotic that confrontation was. The person who acted in defense of Ms. Arceneaux is a relative, a close relative to her. So I can imagine his emotions were probably high, and everyone’s levels were very escalated,” police spokesperson Capt. Kip Judice told KATC.
By the time police sent a SWAT team inside the home, Thomas was already dead.
As of now, no charges have been pressed against anyone in the Arceneaux family. Judice confirmed that initial investigations into the incident revealed that the Arceneauxs were acting in defense of the victim.
Bethany’s brothers, Ryan Arceneaux and Kaylyn Alfred, told The Advertiser that they were part of the woman’s rescue team.
“We went and got her in that house. We kicked doors down. It was like a movie unfolding,” Ryan said. “If we wouldn’t have done what we did, she would have been dead.”
The family has been praised for their actions, but the case has also raised questions about why the police were second on the scene. Bethany’s cousin, Dawnetta Roy, found it “upsetting” that her family had to find the missing woman themselves.
But Cpl. Paul Mouton, a Lafayette Police Department spokesman, said that police were on the hunt as well. He claimed it was coincidence that the family found Bethany first.
“While we were looking on one side, they were looking in another and they came upon her. It just so happens where they were looking was where she was found,” Mouton said. “If we weren’t looking at all and they were searching, that would be different.”
Bethany was taken to Lafayette General Medical Center and is now in stable condition.
“She’s shook up, she’s sliced up, but she’s alright,” Ryan said.
The woman’s relationship to her ex has been fraught with violence. Bethany filed a police complaint on June 15, claiming Thomas locked her in a house and threatened to kill both her and her son. A protective order against Thomas was issued June 17, court records show. Thomas was arrested Aug. 8 for violating the order. He also was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated flight from an officer.
“I’m so happy. God is good,” Monica Arceneaux-Henry, Bethany’s aunt, said. “We followed our faith and believed she was alive. God answers prayers.”