Alfred Bourgeois 56, was executed this week at the Terre, Indiana federal facility for killing and torturing his two and one-half-year-old daughter. He had been on death row for 18 and one-half years.
According to court records, “From the outset, Bourgeois systematically abused and tortured his two-year-old daughter in several ways. For example, Bourgeois became fixated on JG’s toilet training. Her training potty became JG’s primary seat during the day, and Bourgeois even forced her to sleep on it when traveling at night. When she had ‘accidents,’ Bourgeois would strike JG and then tell his older daughter, AB1994, that it was her fault.
In addition, Bourgeois constantly beat and otherwise assaulted JG. He punched her in the face with enough force to give her black eyes. He whipped her with an electrical cord, and he beat her with a belt so hard that it broke. Bourgeois hit JG in the head with a plastic baseball bat so many times that her head ‘was swollen like a football.’ Later, when he was in jail, Bourgeois laughed to a fellow inmate that ‘[t]hat f—ing baby’s head got as big as a watermelon.’
There was also evidence that, before the Bourgeois family left LaPlace, Bourgeois had thrown JG against the wall of the master bedroom. He scratched and pulled her ears, bit her hands, feet, and forehead, and burned the bottom of her foot with a cigarette lighter.
Bourgeois’s wife, Robin, and others noticed that bruises and other injuries appeared on JG’s body shortly after she came to stay with the Bourgeois family and that, between the middle and end of May, JG’s hands and feet had become extremely calloused and swollen. When others tried to clean the sores on JG’s feet, Bourgeois would stop them and jam his dirty thumb into the wounds, then force JG to walk on her injured feet.
In addition to physically torturing JG, Bourgeois traumatized her emotionally. For example, on one occasion, Bourgeois decided that it was time for JG to learn how to swim, despite her tender years and fear of the water. Bourgeois picked up the two-year-old and tossed her several feet in the air and into a swimming pool. He allowed her to sink for several seconds before pulling her out, then repeated the ‘lesson’ for thirty minutes while JG choked and gasped for air.
Similarly, when the family visited a California beach on Bourgeois’s long-haul trucking route, he forced JG into the ocean even though she was terrified of the water, holding her under the water and letting the waves roll over her. By the time they left the beach, JG had swallowed so much salt water that she had difficulty walking and was ill with a swollen stomach.
There was also evidence of sexual abuse. When the family stayed in LaPlace in May, Bourgeois slept in the master bedroom with JG and AB1994 behind a locked door, while Robin slept in a different bedroom.
Late that month, a family friend noticed blood in JG’s diaper and convinced Bourgeois and Robin to take JG to Louisiana Child Protective Services (“CPS”) for an evaluation. There, the examining physician concluded that the source of the blood was external irritation to JG’s genitalia.
Although the doctor determined that the cause of the injury was inconclusive, he noted that it could have been the result of vaginal trauma. The same doctor examined JG after her death and found a similar but more severe irritation to JG’s genitalia, this time concluding that the irritation was likely caused by vaginal trauma. Furthermore, after JG’s death, rectal swabs revealed the presence of semen.
Bourgeois actively tried to conceal the evidence of his continuous abuse. For example, he covered JG’s injured feet with socks, made her wear sunglasses to hide her battered face, and told people that she had been in a terrible car accident to explain her swollen head.
Around the time the blood appeared in JG’s diaper, Bourgeois reported to Texas CPS that JG had been abused while living with Katrina, that Katrina was living with a convicted sex offender, and that the house was unsuitable for a child. CPS investigated Bourgeois’s complaint and concluded that it was not only untrue but also was made “in bad faith.” Similarly, Bourgeois told friends along his trucking route that JG’s mother had neglected and abused JG and that she had been sexually molested with a finger.
Furthermore, Bourgeois fostered the misleading appearance that everything was fine by sending postcards to Katrina, stating that JG was well and having fun on the trucking route/family vacation and visited, inter alia, Disneyland and the Elvis Presley Museum. Bourgeois signed the postcards ‘JG.’ None of the information on the postcards, however, was true.
On July 26, 2002, the Bourgeois family stopped by their home in LaPlace to get their mail and check on their house. Bourgeois found a court order directing him to remit $519.99 in child support to his ex-wife. During the brief visit, Bourgeois made JG wait for them in the hot cab of the truck.
Later that afternoon, the family continued on Bourgeois’s trucking route, arriving the next morning at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station to deliver a shipment. While Bourgeois was backing his truck up to the loading dock, JG was sitting on her training potty.
When she wiggled, and the potty tipped over, Bourgeois became angry and started yelling at JG and spanking her bare bottom. He then grabbed her by her shoulders and slammed the back of her head into the front and side window area around the dashboard four times. Meanwhile, warehouse personnel who were standing in the trailer felt shaking coming from within the cab of Bourgeois’s truck.
Robin awakened shortly after this beating and immediately noticed that JG’s body was limp, her eyes were closed, and her heart was racing. Robin attempted unsuccessfully to revive JG by administering CPR, then told Bourgeois that the child needed emergency medical attention.
Bourgeois replied that he would take JG to the emergency room after he finished unloading his truck. Robin insisted that JG needed help immediately, handing JG to Bourgeois and telling him to get her help.
Bourgeois responded that they would just say that JG slipped while following AB1994 out of the truck. Bourgeois then left the cab with JG. After Robin got dressed, she opened the passenger-side door to exit the cab, and there, on the ground, lay JG. Robin again tried CPR while a passer-by called 911. After that, Bourgeois came running from behind the truck, asking what happened.
When the ambulance arrived, Bourgeois and Robin told the driver, then told both CPS workers and the FBI agent, that JG had fallen out of the truck. Dr. Noorullah Akhtar examined JG at the hospital and concluded that her brain had hemorrhaged and was swollen. The doctor ventured that JG’s injuries were equivalent to those of a person who had fallen out of a car traveling on the Interstate.
All of this occurred on June 27, 2002. The doctors sustained JG on life support until her mother could get to the hospital, where the baby died in her mother’s arms the next day.
The Post-Mortem Investigation
After JG’s death, Dr. Elizabeth Rouse, the medical examiner, conducted an autopsy, which she described as one of the most involved of her career. This, she explained, was because of the sheer number and extent of the injuries to JG’s body.
Dr. Rouse observed, inter alia, that JG had (1) a bruised shoulder, (2) human bite marks on her back and arm, (3) scratch marks and injuries to her ears, (4) loop marks on her body consistent with an electrical cord, and (5) a circular hole a quarter of an inch deep on the bottom of one foot.
When she opened JG’s torso for examination, Dr. Rouse observed deep tissue bruising in every area of JG’s body. All in all, JG exhibited 25 or 26 whip marks, 78 healed scars, 73 to 105 nonspecific contusions, 8 pattern contusions, 9 or 10 abrasions or excoriations, 7 to 9 healing ulcerations, and 3 lacerations.
On the basis of JG’s injuries, Dr. Rouse concluded that JG was a chronically abused or battered child. She determined that the ultimate cause of death was an impact to the head, resulting in a devastating brain injury. The location of the fatal injury was consistent with Bourgeois’s holding JG by the shoulders and slamming the right side and back of her head against the window and dashboard of the truck cab.
Bourgeois was found guilty of murder, lost his appeals, and sentenced to death.