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Clardie Ellis III-Latoya Francois: New Orleans murder-for-hire plot

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WWLTV Eyewitness News is reporting today that a New Orleans woman plotted to have someone kill her husband last year in Uptown. New Orleans officials say in an elaborate murder-for-hire plot, Latoya Francois hired someone to gun down her husband, Clardie Ellis III, in June 2013.

According to court documents, 28-year-old Clardie Lee Ellis III was shot and killed just before walking into his grandmother's home in the Uptown-West Carrollton area. Investigators had no clear suspects in Ellis' death for several months.

Latoya Francois was arrested for second-degree murder in January 2014, after a person pointed police in the direction of Francois. Clardie Ellis III had graduated from Suno one month prior to his death. His mother stated that he had also been accepted to Graduate School before the killing.

People who knew Clardie Lee Ellis say that he was a man of God, and that he enjoyed ministering and spending time with the community's youth. His mother indicated that she knows her son is in a better place.

Clardie Ellis III Death Timeline

In May 2013, Clardie Ellis is taking a summer course at Southern University at New Orelans, according to the Times-Picayune. Clardie Ellis III graduates with a degree from Suno University. He has already received an acceptance letter to attend Graduate School.

On Friday, June 7, Clardie Ellis III has plans to visit his grandmother who lives in the 8500 block of Willow Street in Carrollton, according to police records.

Just after arriving, Clardie Ellis III is gunned down outside of his grandmother's home. 911 operators receive a call regarding "shots fired" in the area. A witness tells police that a man with dreads shot Ellis and sped away.

When New Orleans police arrive, they find the dead body of a young man on the ground. The man, identified as Clardie Ellis III, has multiple gunshot wounds to the body. Clardie Ellis' mother, Djuana Ellis, was the person to identify the body as police arrived.

Police continue to seek suspects in the case but immediately take interest in his estranged wife, Latoya Francois. With little evidence, the case goes cold. Months later, New Orleans Police detectives receive a tip that Clardie Ellis' estranged wife had talked about killing him.

A fugitive arrest warrant is issued for Latoya Francois of Avondale. She is finally captured in January of 2014. Francois is charged with second-degree murder and is booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.

In April 2014, documents filed in court indicate that Clardie Lee Ellis III was shot and killed by someone Latoya Francois hired. The second person is identified as 24-year-old Earl Russell, Latoya Francois' cousin, according to Uptown Messenger.

Francois and Russell are being held at the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office.

Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office
Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office Latoya Francois-New Orleans

Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office

Here is an arrest photo of Latoya Francois. Police believe she had her husband killed by her cousin. This wasn't the first time Latoya Francois had tried to hurt Clardie Ellis.

Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office
Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office Clardie Lee Ellis-Suno (Southern University at New Orleans)

Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office

Clardie Lee Ellis was doing things with his life. He had already graduated from Suno and was preparing to attend Graduate School. His mother was very proud of everything he had accomplished. She knows that even though her son is dead, he is in a much better place.

Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office
Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office Earl Russell-murder-for-hire plot

Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office

Here is Earl Russell. According to court documents, he is Latoya Francois' cousin. Both Latoya and Earl are charged with second-degree murder. Police were tipped off about the deadly duo months after the initial investigation.

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