Leonard Fagot

This blog is going to vastly different than any blog that I have done before. When I found this name on my list I knew who it was, which is not always the case.  I knew there had been both a book, and a movie called Deadly Relations, based on this story.  However, when I sat down to do research like I always do I could find very little that was not associated with the book or the movie.  Even in those there was little more than basic reviews and summaries of the crimes committed.  I am hoping that readers will come and comment and give specifics.

If you grew up or were around in the mid-1980s and the early 1990s then you know television was bombarded by two things.... movies based on true crimes and mini-series.  Sometimes if you were lucky you could get two for one.  It was around this time that I began liking all things true crime.  Two movies from that era have stuck with me, A Killer Among Friends, based on the Missy Avila murder in which she was killed by her supposed two best friends, and Deadly Relations.

The book was written by two of Leonard Fagot's four daughters and of course that is what the movie was based on also.  I credit the movie with also feeding into my love of learning about the law. Leonard Fagot was eventually convicted on several counts including the murder of at least one of his son in laws, and several attempts at insurance fraud.  At the time of suicide in 1978 an appeal had been filed against his convictions.  The end of the movie tells you of his death (although honestly I do not remember how he committed suicide and could find nothing in my research) and that due to the law in Louisiana his convictions were vacated and so in the eyes of the law he was buried an innocent man.  This always bothered me but thankfully through research on other cases I have come to realize that this is not always the case when a convicted person dies while their case is on appeal, nor can I tell you this is still the case in Louisiana.  

This was a man who started out as a respected U.S. Marine and went on to become a well known lawyer in the New Orleans area in the 1960's and 1970's. He was married with four daughters who say he ran his home with an iron fist that included abuse but most of all control.  By all accounts everyone, including his wife Shirley, were more along the lines of a Stepford family than anything else.  As each girl grew older Leonard would attempt to make sure they stayed close and would put the up in a house on his land.  Apparently none of them became suspicious or even doubted him until one of his son in laws died from a supposed fall and it was learned that Fagot was the sole beneficiary of a life insurance policy.  Along the way it seems he created other forms of insurance fraud, including at least two documented incidents in which he was known to purposely maim himself to collect money.  

After the death of his son in law it was said that he confessed to his dutiful wife of his crime and that she decided to leave him.  She did not go to the police, or even file for divorce from what I can find.  There has been some criticism given to the wife and daughters for their devotion to Fagot long after his crimes were discovered as well as their desire to still be financially supported by him, which obviously in his mind continued to give him control over them.  There was also much said about how after his split from Shirley, Leonard moved on to a much younger woman named Marty, who helped him continue with his crimes and scams.  Even through all of the suspicions and what not no one went running to the police and it does not seem any insurance company became suspicious.  

As I said, as I tried to do the research on this individual and his cases I ran into several brick walls.  I never like to solely use one source as the basis of my blogs but it was difficult to find anything beyond the references to the movie and the book.  I was most surprised when I found my way to the Findagrave.com site.  I use that site often for research on my own genealogy but also in research cases.  I have seen several pages there in which a perpetrator or a victim of a crime has a page.  In most cases both pages tell the story of the crime.  The victim's page is often filled with things like "RIP" and the like, while the perpetrator's pages have the comment sections turned off due to what has been called "abuse." On Leonard's page there is absolutely no mention of his crimes for one which was the first surprising thing I found there. Secondly I noticed that it said he had been given military honors at his funeral. I am not going to say that his crimes took away from his military service or the time he gave to his country, but, what that tells me is that someone went to even more lengths to give this man an honorable burial and that in a way surprises me after the things he was accused of against his family. On the flip side of that, the military often pays for tombstones and what not so it could have been a way of saving money.  At first glance I thought it possible that the page was put together by a woman named, Marty, who has been called his second wife (although I'm not sure that was official) but upon looking at it I realized this likely was not the case because she was not mentioned anywhere on the page and yet Shirley, the mother of his children was.  

Some have accused his daughters of writing the book that they did about their lives living with their father and his crimes as a simple way to make money, maybe it was, maybe it wasn't.  What I can say is that without that the general lay person would see Leonard Fagot as nothing more than a devoted former military man, father and husband.  The crimes against his victims are largely forgotten and as I said are very difficult to be found.  The saddest part about it is that with so little information that is largely surrounded by this book only one side gets told and when that happens facts often get lost in the mix.

I would love to hear from people who know more about this story and more of the facts.  I saw the movie many, many years ago and I do not remember them all, even if they were all true.  I have not read the book as of yet as I am trying to find a copy.  I am curious what others know and can add!



Comments

  1. I loved that movie/mini series...The mom and 3 of 4 sisters have passed away in recent years it appears. Maybe Carol's daughter Kim will do an interview one day and shed more light. After seeing that the late son in laws dad committed suicide, one sees how much devastation there really was.

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