North Texas ghost hunters allegedly burned down historic plantat - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

North Texas ghost hunters allegedly burned down historic plantation

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ARABI, La. (AP) -- A state district judge has set bond for seven suspects accused of setting fire to the historic LeBeau Plantation in St. Bernard Parish.

WVUE-TV reports their bonds range from $75,000 to $450,000.

The historic home burned to the ground early Friday. Investigators say the suspects admitted to being on a marijuana-fueled ghost hunt when they allegedly decided to set the landmark in Arabi on fire.

The New Orleans Advocate reports Judge Perry Nicosia set the highest bond Monday for Dusten Davenport, 31, of Fort Worth, Texas. He was booked with arson and simple burglary and criminal damage over $50,000.

Facing the same charges were Joshua Allen, 21, Joshua Briscoe 20, and Joseph Landin, 20, all of Grand Prairie, Texas; and a 17-year-old from Dallas. Their bond was set at $350,000.

The final two suspects, Kevin Barbe, 20, of Arabi, and Bryon Meek, 29, of Gretna, had bond set at $75,000 each. Barbe was booked with accessory to arson and criminal trespassing, while Meek was booked with accessory to arson.

The seven are suspected of breaking into the home, built in the 1850s, in the early hours of Friday to look for ghosts and to smoke, St. Bernard Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

"They were in there looking for ghosts, drinking, smoking dope, and for some reason they made a decision -- a conscious decision -- before they left to set this building on fire," Pohlmann said.

Pohlmann said the men were door-to-door salesmen but could not say what the men were selling.

The home, located near the Mississippi River levee in Old Arabi and vacant since the 1980s, is the property of the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Foundation, which owns extensive land in St. Bernard Parish as well as buildings in Orleans Parish.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our community's most beloved treasures," the foundation said in a prepared statement that also took pains to defend its stewardship of the house. "The LeBeau Plantation was one of our most cherished assets."

There was a chain-link fence around the home, and the doors and windows were boarded up, foundation president Rita Gue said.

"It is doubtful that anything short of 24-hour patrols would have kept out these intruders intent on engaging in illegal activities," the foundation's statement said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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