Fourth suspect arrested in murder-for-hire plot

BROOKSVILLE — One of the suspects wanted in connection with a home invasion as part of a plot to kill a Brooksville woman's husband has been arrested after dodging authorities for nearly a month.

Esnel Jean Baptiste, 23, of Orlando was taken into custody Monday and charged with home invasion and kidnapping. He remained at the Hernando County Jail on Tuesday with no bail.

Three other suspects are behind bars while one remains at large.

Baptiste was caught in Orange County on Saturday and was transported to the Hernando County Jail two days later. Once in custody, Baptiste told detectives that he was one of three men hired by Jacqucia Francois to do "a job" at her home.

According to the Hernando Sheriff's Office, Francois wanted the men to kill her husband, Fenol Francois, before he left for work on the morning of Nov. 18. Authorities say she wanted to be "free of him" and to have sole ownership of their property and assets.

The men, plus another named Kedner Noel, allegedly met with Francois on Nov. 16 and 17 to lay out the plan and to figure out how to get inside her home in the 8100 block of Nightwalker Road. On the morning of Nov. 18, Baptiste, Frans Guerrier and another man known only as "Mitch" allegedly broke into the home only to find that Fenol Francois had left early for work.

The men then ransacked the home, trying to find money and drugs that had been promised to them by Jacqucia Francois and Noel, according to the arrest report. When the men couldn't find the promised goods, they went into the bedroom of the couple's 13-year-old son and ordered him out of bed at gunpoint.

The men tied up the boy and waited at the home until Jacqucia Francois arrived about 7:30 a.m. Baptiste told detectives that "Mitch" tried to get Francois to enter the home so the men could confront her, but she refused and started screaming once neighbors came outside to investigate.

Within minutes, the men fled back to Orlando. Baptiste said he didn't know until later that Francois had wanted them to kill her husband.

Francois, 46, remains behind bars on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder. Noel, 33, is in custody and has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and being a principal in the first degree. Both have no bail.

Guerrier, 34, also remains in custody at the county jail. He faces charges of home invasion and kidnapping.

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Fourth suspect arrested in murder-for-hire plot 12/30/08 [Last modified: Sunday, January 4, 2009 10:06pm]

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