“Failure’s not an option for me this time’
LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- A small chorus of “good lucks” concluded a June, 2019, parole hearing that released a man now at the center of two kidnapping investigations.
It was noted that 52-year-old Philip DeWoody had spent nearly half his life behind bars. He made up time served with good behavior, entered and completed several rehab, behavioral and education programs. He was even in his third semester of college in an online program at Ashland University.
He was studying business administration, he said.
DeWoody’s time served for convictions of armed robbery, aggravated escape and second degree kidnapping amounted to 26 years. Enough time, he said, to address guilt.
“First I would like to say that I have remorse for the times I have done,” DeWoody told the panel in 2019. “In the beginning, I was on a path. It look this incarceration to make me realize that the people I have hurt. I really want to show that’s I’ve changed, I’ve matured since I’ve been here and most of my incarceration has been toward rehabilitation in some part.”
And records show he had.
DeWoody was accepted into the Louisiana Parole Project and had been staying in men’s halfway home in Opelousas.
He was a skilled carpenter, an artist with an eye for nature and he aspired to become a truck driver and eventually move to Texas where his father lived.
Despite proof of his strides toward a new life out of prison, law enforcement agencies, including the district attorney’s office, in south/central Louisiana jurisdictions where DeWoody was convicted opposed his release.
“I’m certainly willing to accept any stipulations and not go north of Alexandria or north of Opelousas,” DeWoody said during the hearing.
Nine months later, DeWoody was arrested in the kidnapping to two woman, a victim in Opelousas and 72-year-old Joyce Thomas, of Ville Platte.
On March 2, Thomas’ body was found in a wooded area off an Interstate 49 frontage road between Sunset and Opelousas. Her cause of death has not yet been released by State Police.
“Failure’s not an option for me this time, you know?” DeWoody said his his closing statements, moments before the vote in support of his release. “I really do hope and pray that this board will let me have another chance at life.”
As of Thursday, DeWoody remains in custody in the Hunt Correctional Center. Both State Police and the Opelousas Police Department are continuing their investigations.