The Crypt Keeper: Skeleton Revives Gretna Mystery


This story is so sad and selfish at the same time. I can’t imagine my loved ones not knowing what happened to me. It’s Cyber Monday, so please read on…

Note: This creepy story was also featured on the show called HBO Autopsy.

Skeleton Revives Gretna Mystery

Times Picayune December 7, 1991

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It was Dec. 15, 1973, when Allen P. Robicheaux, 73, disappeared without a trace from his Franklin Street home in Gretna. A week later, police found his car abandoned a few blocks away, but there was never again any sign of the slight, balding man who was last seen wearing a green army jacket.

Franklin Street in Gretna, Louisiana.

The house shown in the documentary. Photo Credit: HBO Autopsy 4. 

Now, the 18-year-old mystery may give way to a new one as police consider the likelihood that Robicheaux never made it farther than his own front porch. On Thursday, an exterminator looking for termites underneath the house at 1321 Franklin St. instead found a human skull. When Gretna Police showed up to investigate, they found an entire human skeleton inside a hollow concrete porch of the two-family dwelling where Robicheaux once lived.

Current view of address. The crypt keeper house either burned or was razed. The vacant lot to the left had a house visible in the previous photo.

Although they have no proof that the skeleton belongs to Robicheaux, police confirmed that they are looking into that possibility. At this early stage, police have not even classified the death and stressed that the skeletal remains could very well not be those of the missingman . Police jackhammered an opening through the wall of the concrete porch to gain access to the bones. The only other entrance appeared to be a hole barely large enough for an adult to crawl through.

The skeleton was intact and lying face up. The only clothes it appeared to be wearing were a pair of dark-colored socks. Its head was resting near a large, green duffle bag. At its feet was a colored ceramic statuette. Anthropologists from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge were called in to try to identify the skeleton, determine its age, race and sex and find out how long it has been there.

After emerging Friday from the 2-foot-high crawl space, LSU forensic anthropologist Mary Manhein could say only that the skeleton appeared to be male. She said it had been there at least a year but could have been there as many as 20 years. Jefferson Parish coroner’s investigator Bill Donovan said the remains probably had been there at least five years. The skeleton was transported in a body bag Friday afternoon to Baton Rouge, where tests will be conducted over the next several weeks.

Hugh Bodin, 72, who has lived in the Franklin Street area for 40 years, remembers the day Robicheaux disappeared. “They missed him, and then they found his car,” Bodin said. “They just assumed he had taken off.” Bodin said Robicheaux had one distinguishing figure that might help investigators determine if the skeleton is his. “If that’s him they will be able to find out soon enough,” Bodin said. “He had a gold tooth.” Investigators would not say Friday whether the skeleton had a gold tooth.

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Skeleton of man missing since ’73 found

The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.) – January 16, 1992

When Allen P. Robichaux, 73, mysteriously disappeared from his Gretna home on Dec. 15, 1973 , neighbors at first assumed he had gone to Thibodaux to visit relatives as he had often done. Then, when his car turned up abandoned a few days later, there was speculation of foul play. Now, authorities theorize that Robichaux carefully planned his suicide in a crypt _ replete with personal mementos and a sliding door _ that he built underneath his porch where a human skull was spotted Dec. 5 by an insect exterminator.

Police had to use jackhammers to cut their way under the concrete porch, where they found a skeleton. “We want to eliminate every possibility, and we are still pursuing some leads,” said Anthony Christiana, Gretna ‘s chief of detectives. “But from what we’ve found so far, it looks like it’s him and this is what happened.” Robichaux’s wife, Lucy Mae, was still living in the house when her husband disappeared, but she could provide little information on his disappearance, police said.

Forensic tests confirmed that the skeletal remains were those of an elderly man who had been shot in the head. A .38-caliber pistol also was found under the porch. Investigators also found under the porch a concrete wall leading to the compartment where the skeleton was found. A metal plate in a compartment may have worked like a sliding door, police said.

Inside the compartment police found personal effects, including Robichaux’s wallet and driver’s license. “We don’t know for sure whether this is a place he built to commit suicide or even if it was a place he went to sometimes, but it’s possible,” said Bill Donovan, a Jefferson Parish coroner’s investigator.

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REST IN PEACE:

ALLEN ROBICHAUX

Born: 26 Mar 1900

Died: Dec 1973

Gretna, Jefferson, LA

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