FBI evidence team finishes search at Hosanna Church

WBRZ-TV The Advocate/May 26, 2005

Ponchatoula -- Investigators interviewed witnesses and went through volumes of evidence Thursday as they worked to piece together a Ponchatoula church's alleged occult rituals that included devil-worship and sex with children and animals. A FBI evidence team wrapped up its search at the Hosanna Church on Southwest Railroad Avenue, the location where most of the alleged child abuse occurred, said Laura Covington, spokeswoman for the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office.

Investigators have not said what they found as they dug pits on the church grounds, other than construction debris and an old carpet.

Covington said that as of midweek, no additional arrest warrants or search warrants were pending in the investigation. Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards has said that there are at least 100 people detectives plan to interview and has not ruled out more arrests.

Deputies also booked Nicole Bernard, 36, of Columbus, Ohio, into the parish jail late Wednesday on a count of aggravated rape of a girl under age 13.

Nicole Bernard is the cult member who first contacted authorities seven weeks ago and fled Louisiana in fear of her safety, investigators have said.

The church's pastor, Louis David Lamonica, 45, of Tickfaw surrendered May 16 to the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office after allegedly admitting to child abuse, deputies have said.

What investigators learned from Bernard and Lamonica led to the arrests of a total of nine central figures in a cult, including members who allegedly had sex with children, ages 1 to 15, and animals and used cat blood in occult-type activities.

The Public Defender's Office asked for preliminary examination and bond hearings for four people implicated the case next week. The District Attorney's Office also has 60 days from the time of arrest to present cases to a grand jury.

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