Police Were Stunned by the Intricate Web of Lies Surrounding the Murder of LaNell Barsock

Larene Austin dramatically burst into the offices of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Palmdale with horrifying news.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Jun. 14 2024, Published 3:34 p.m. ET

Every member of law enforcement who was made aware of the LaNell Barsock case was shocked by the real story. The plot that ended in her murder was so involved that it begs the question, isn't it just easier to walk away? Barsock was a 29-year-old nursing student living Palmdale, Calif., when she was killed in June 2010. That was just the beginning of a tale that started online and ended on television. What happened to LaNell Barsock? The truth is stranger than fiction.

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What happened to LaNell Barsock is the stuff of nightmares.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Barsock's body was discovered by her friend Larene Eleanor Austin who had dropped by her Palmdale home. She immediately rushed to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Palmdale to report what happened, and while there, Austin gave a statement. It didn't take her long to mention Barsock's live-in boyfriend Louis Bonheur, who, as Oxygen reported, went to the same school as Barsock.

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Barsock and Austin did not meet at school but rather through an ad on Craigslist posted in May 2010, per the Los Angeles Times. While they started out as friends, things progressed into a more romantic status. That only lasted a few weeks because Barsock told Austin she was only interested in keeping things platonic so she could focus on her relationship with Bonheur.

Although Barsock wanted to make things work with her boyfriend, many people understood there were cultural differences at play. He was from Haiti and Barsock was American. Homicide detective Joe Espino was told by some that Bonheur was a jealous guy and had a wicked temper. He told True Crime Daily, "He would stalk her, had a history of driving her off the road which caused her to crash."

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Austin told police that the day Barsock was killed, she walked into the middle of a pretty terrible fight between her and Bonheur. She had come over to weave Barock's hair but opted to come back later. When she did, that's when she discovered her friend's body which, as Espino pointed out, "had a black plastic bag around her head." She had been shot, but the bag indicated her killer didn't want to see her face after the fact which usually means it was a crime of passion.

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Larene Austin tried to frame Louis Bonheur.

Austin's story was very compelling and when police brought Bonheur in for questioning, it was certainly looking as if he was involved in Barsock's murder. Not only was there a scratch down the side of his cheek, but Barsock's brother told detectives that he saw Bonheur looking up flights to Miami while also making several strange bank transactions. While being interrogated he pretended to cry but police saw there were no tears. They also found a letter from Barsock telling him she was leaving for another man.

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The crime scene was processed by Sheriff's Senior Criminalist Mary Keens who collected a lot of evidence. In the meantime, authorities looked into Bonheur's alibi and were shocked to find it held up. He said he had been getting his car fixed at various auto parts stores in Los Angeles which is an hour south of Palmdale. When police searched his car, they found receipts backing this up. When they looked at surveillance cameras from the stores, they saw Bonheur at both.

After learning that Barsock also liked women and frequented the Craigslist personals section, they figured out that Austin and Barsock had briefly dated. They asked Austin to come in for a polygraph but she delayed the appointment. At this time, some of the evidence came back and it showed Austin's DNA on a pair of bloody gloves found at the scene. She also left fingerprints and forged the letter from Barsock to Bonheur.

Austin ran and stayed hidden for about a year until a December 2011 episode of America's Most Wanted helped catch her. Evidently she had been hiding out in Belize. She was apprehended and eventually found guilty of first-degree murder which ended in a sentencing of 50 years to life, per The Antelope Valley Times.

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