Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Rape
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: 1990's - 1998
Date of arrest: May 21, 1998
Date of birth: 1974
Victims profile: Two of his ex-girlfriends / His wife, Lashann Matthews, 20 / His stepson, James, 1 1/2-year-old
Method of murder: Strangulation - ???
Location: Louisiana/Indiana/Michigan, USA
Status: Entered a plea in Louisiana in exchange for a sentence of life without parole on August 30, 2006

On 21 May 1998, after being arrested in Chicago, 24-year-old Eric Matthews confessed to killing his stepson, his wife and another two women.

The stepson, 1 1/2-year-old James, was found dead in a trash bin in New Orleans. At first he said he dropped the kid at a hospital, but later admitted strangling the boy in a fit of rage, then confessed to a couple of rapes and the murders of his wife and two ex-girlfriends.

Matthews' crime spree began the 18th with the killing of his wife, Lashann Matthews, 20, at their trailer home in Hammond, Louisiana, about 45 miles northwest of New Orleans.

He then fled with her two children, Rosalyn and James. James' body was found two days later in a trash bin behind a church in a New Orleans suburb. Rosalyn, his stepdaughter, was found with him unharmed at the time of his arrested.

While being questioned, Matthews also admitted committing two rapes in Indiana and Louisiana and killing two of his ex-girlfriends in the early 1990s. Authorities believe those two murders occurred in the Indianapolis and Michigan areas.


Eric Matthews Plea

This year GRACE played an instrumental role in the long and hard-fought battle to save the life of Eric Matthews, a young schizophrenic Louisiana man charged with murdering his wife and young step-son who awaited trial for over eight years despite the fact that he had confessed, fully cooperated with officials, and was willing to plead guilty in exchange for life without parole. 

Eric was represented by the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, our sister office where Danalynn Recer worked prior to founding GRACE, and where she remains of counsel.  Along with LCAC Director Neal Walker and mitigation specialist Melanie Carr (now the Director of A Fighting Chance, or AFC), Danalynn represented Eric for most of those eight years, during which the elected DA of Tangipahoa Parish ignored the wishes of the victims' family, ignored overwhelming evidence of Eric's severe mental illness, ignored Eric's profound remorse and his willingness to accept responsibility for his actions, and pressed for a death penalty that no one impacted by the crime actually wanted. 

After extraordinary pre-trial litigation, numerous hearings, and an extensive mitigation investigation conducted by staff from LCAC, AFC and GRACE, the DA finally relented, and Eric entered a plea in exchange for a sentence of life without parole on August 30, 2006.



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