MOTHER AND SON ARRESTED FOR OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
On August 24, the Franklinton Police Department notified the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office concerning a missing minor female who was last seen at Franklinton High School. The police department asked the Sheriff’s Office to inquire at a residence in Angie where the missing juvenile’s boyfriend lives.
Washington Parish Deputy Sheriff Richard Serigne went to the residence of Cody Phelps, who resides on Washington Street in Angie. Phelps denied any knowledge about the location of the missing juvenile and Phelps’ mother allowed Deputy Serigne to search the residence. The search turned up no evidence that the missing female was there.
On August 26, Deputy Serigne returned to the Phelps residence after receiving information from a Marion County, Mississippi, deputy sheriff that the missing girl most likely was at the previously searched location. Once again, Deputy Serigne asked Cody Phelps if he knew the location of the missing girl. Cody stated that he did not. Deputy Serigne then asked the mother, Melissa Phelps, if she knew where the girl could be located. Melissa said she did not know where she was.
At that time, Deputy Serigne advised Melissa and Cody Phelps that an informant in Marion County had provided information that the girl was indeed at the Phelps’ residence. Confronted with that information, Melissa Phelps confessed that the missing girl was being housed at the nearby home of Melissa’s mother. The girl was located at that residence and turned over to the Franklinton Police Department.
Investigation into the matter revealed that the girl had been picked up at school by Cody Phelps who then drove her to his residence in Angie. When notified that law enforcement was looking for the girl, both Phelps and his mother advised the girl to hide in the woods behind the house while the officer was there and to hide her book bag so that it would not be discovered. After the officer left, Melissa Phelps transported the girl to Mississippi and back, with full knowledge that the Sheriff’s Office was searching for the girl.
On August 30, Deputy Serigne arrested Cody Phelps, 18, on a charge of obstruction of justice. He was placed in the Washington Parish Jail and released the following day after posting a $2,500 bond.
On August 31, Washington Parish Deputy Sheriff Phillip Varnado arrested Melissa Phelps, 44, and placed her in the Washington Parish Jail. She, too, was charged with obstruction of justice. Phelps posted a $2,500 bond and was released from jail the same day.
“There is absolutely no excuse,” stated Sheriff Randy Seal, “for Melissa and Cody Phelps to intentionally lie about their involvement in hiding this juvenile female from law enforcement officers. They obstructed the investigation for several days as they conspired to conceal her location. Meanwhile, a missing juvenile report was filed with the National Crime Information Network and officers throughout the nation were alerted to the situation. We didn’t know if she was a runaway, had been abducted, or whatever. We just knew it was necessary that we locate her. I am so grateful the child is safe and I appreciate the diligence of our officers to locate her and to arrest this mother and son who flat out lied about their involvement. Their behavior is despicable.”