21-year-old accused of killing 5 in Louisiana had brief marriage, some Army basic training

Dakota Theriot sought familiar surroundings after allegedly killing five people, including his parents and his girlfriend, but after driving through the night to his grandmother’s house he finds himself in a county jail pending extradition to Louisiana.

His surrender in the rampage is the latest in a young life marked by mounting destruction and a series of failures.

Theriot, 21, was married briefly in December 2015, but the couple separated after 11 days and divorced the next year. According to court records, his wife said Theriot had choked, punched and slapped her during their three-year relationship, and while drunk, he threw her through a window, breaking her wrist.

His mother later testified at a court hearing on whether a judge should impose a protective order against him, but St. Charles Parish court records don’t indicate what she said. Theriot wasn’t charged, and the judge dissolved a temporary order of protection, and instead imposed a joint injunction ordering both to have no contact with the other.

“He did have a lot of family drama,” said Kenny Hebert, the owner of Southshore Pools in St. Charles Parish, where Theriot worked for a short period of time cleaning pools.

A month later, military records show, Theriot signed up for basic training in the U.S. armed forces. He was out four months later. An Army spokesman said only that Theriot “was separated in May 2016 before completing training.”

This past weekend, less than a month after being kicked out of his parents’ home, sheriffs say, he killed three people near Walker and his parents near Gonzales, then fled for the rural Virginia coastal plains where he lived in his early teens.

According to investigators, Theriot killed his girlfriend Summer Ernest, 20; her father, Billy Ernest, 43; and her brother Tanner Ernest, 17; at their home north of Walker in Livingston Parish and then drove to Gonzales in Ascension Parish and killed his parents, Keith and Elizabeth Theriot, both 50.

Law officers in Virginia were tipped early on that the accused mass murderer was probably heading their way. But there is still no indication why Theriot snapped to the point of taking lives.

Cory Flannery, a friend of Theriot’s from his time in Warsaw, a small town of about 1,500 in the Northern Neck of Virginia, said he remembers Theriot sitting on his couch eating cereal and smoking marijuana with him. While Flannery said Theriot had a temper, the shooting rampage on Saturday was still out of character for the person he knew.

Flannery said Theriot had smoked weed for years, was addicted to cigarettes as a middle-schooler but he didn’t know him to use hard drugs at the time. Though he was often in trouble, Flannery said, he didn’t seem violent or dangerous.

“I’m completely shocked,” Flannery said Sunday in an interview with The Advocate. “I never thought he’d lose control.”

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