Murder victim's family leads deputies to suspect
Ponchatoula, LA (FOX44) — To find April Vanderlinden's alleged killer, the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office got an unlikely assist from her family.
Deputies arrested Ryan Pourciau, 18, a day after they say he killed Vanderlinden at her home.
It turns out they had him surrounded, but did not know it.
Deputies focused their search on the Ponchatoula neighborhood where Vanderlinden lived, even locking down Ponchatoula High. They figured he was close by, so they let her family stay in a hotel overnight. Wednesday afternoon, they asked to return home.
"They wanted to go back to their house to retrieve some belongings, "said Sheriff Daniel Edwards. "We were already on scene, because we were still doing manhunts in this particular area. In fact, we had deputies in the driveway."
As the family picked up a few things, they noticed a bulletproof vest hanging up in a closet, and knew that it did not belong to any of them.
"And that they recognized (it) belonged to Ryan Pourciau," Edwards added.
All the sheriff's deputies near the home quickly went back inside, searching room by room. They found Pourciau hiding under a bed, clutching a rifle. Deputies shot Pourciau in the shoulder and arrested him.
"The type of weapon he was found in possession of was apparently a 7.62 caliber, a very unusual, certainly not a common weapon," Edwards stated. He added that it matched the bullet casings found at the scene, and appeared similar to the gun used to kill Vanderlinden.
Neighbors said they did not hear deputies shoot Pourciau Wednesday afternoon. But they will not soon forget the gunfire they heard Tuesday morning that took Vanderlinden's life.
"I just think this is a very nice neighborhood," said a woman who asked to remain anonymous. "Ponchatoula's a great city, and it's just a tragedy that we have this going on in Ponchatoula."
Deputies took Pourciau to North Oaks Medical Center in Hammond to treat the gunshot wound they gave him.
He was charged with first degree murder, and will also face a burglary charge for breaking into Vanderlinden's house.