July 06, 2024

Suspect Arrested for the Murder of Lark Starnes

At approximately 8:15 AM on Friday (July 5, 2024), Washington Parish Deputy Sheriffs responded to the 1200 block of South Choctaw Road near Bogalusa, in reference to reports of a man who was found deceased behind his residence. The initial investigation determined that the victim had sustained multiple gunshot wounds. The victim was identified as 62 year old Lark Starnes, a resident of South Choctaw Road near Bogalusa.

Clois Clifton Blackledge, III, age 35, was quickly identified as a person of interest. The Honda motorcycle on which he had been last seen was located at Poole’s Bluff boat launch in Bogalusa at approximately 6:30 PM on July 5, 2024. Investigators searched the area late into the evening of July 5th and followed several leads without locating Blackledge. 

Investigators returned to Poole’s Bluff boat launch early on July 6th, with a member of the Louisiana State Police Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) team. While searching, investigators received reports of a man matching Blackledge’s description walking down Highway 21. At the intersection of Hwy 21 and Mitchell Rd, south of Bogalusa, the UAS team member contacted Blackledge and confirmed his identity. Washington Parish Deputy Sheriffs subsequently took Blackledge into custody for questioning. He was later arrested and charged with two felonies; one count of Second-Degree Murder and one count of Obstruction of Justice.  He is presumed innocent. 

The investigation is ongoing; updates will be provided as they are available.

The Washington Parish Sheriff extends his thanks to the numerous members of the community who assisted in providing information and would like to recognize the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office Digital Forensics Team, the ATF, and the Louisiana State Police for their exceptional efforts and professionalism. 

Anyone with any further information about this incident is encouraged to call the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office at (985) 839-3434 or Crime Stoppers at (504) 822-1111.

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