Man with close-cropped dark hair and sparse facial hair

Ricardo Brutnell bio

Ricardo Brutnell was born on September 18, 1977, to Ricardo Jimenez and Lila Brutnell in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ricardo Sr. supported himself through illegal activities, including loan sharking, extortion, and theft. Lila worked as a maid in some of the hotels in the French Quarter and supplemented that with occasional prostitution.

Although it was hardly a traditional family, Ricardo was well-loved by his parents. The elder Ricardo often took the young boy along on his routes and sent him to do simple errands. By the time Ricardo was 11, he was helping his father, dropping off packages and picking up thick envelopes. By 16, Ricardo had graduated to stealing cars and beating up deadbeats.

In his twenties, Ricardo operated his own businesses, making loans, charging protection money, and running girls out of a second-floor apartment on Bourbon Street. Ricardo would walk with the girls down into the French Quarter and watch all the wealthy tourists. Sometimes, he wandered into the Garden District to look in the windows of all the mansions. A few times, he even broke into some of these houses, but he never took anything. He just walked around inside, envying their money and status.

The quiet of the rich people's homes contrasted sharply with the increasing violence of Ricardo's work life. A lot of police pressure cropped up after he broke a man's jaw for not paying his gambling debts. Ricardo didn't find out until later that the man was the police chief's brother-in-law.

Ricardo had also been clashing with the New Orleans crime bosses who saw his ambition as disrespect. It came to a head one night when Ricardo hijacked a tractor-trailer carrying a shipment of cigarettes near Lake Ponchartrain. One of the local crime lords had earmarked that shipment and was not happy about losing it to Ricardo.

One of Ricardo's girls managed to warn him to leave town. "Don't go home, don't pack clothes, don't do anything but drive because they've had enough of you." Ricardo fled that same night, drifting around the South for the next few years. He ran a string of girls in Atlanta for a while, and then he operated cockfights in Houston for several months.

When the casino industry began booming in Mississippi, Ricardo moved to the northern part of the state. He picked Oxford because it had an excellent bookstore, the university lent a certain cultural air, and the wrought iron balconies on the Square reminded him of home. He was only a few hours from the casinos, yet he was still far enough away from New Orleans to be left alone.

After buying a large home in Oxford, Ricardo started various legal businesses, including a laundromat, a bail bonds service, and an auto shop. And, of course, he brought in extra money through various illegal activities.

Officer Charles Tatum was instrumental in helping county prosecutors convict Ricardo of operating a prostitution ring. At the time Detective Tatum died, Ricardo was out of prison and on probation.


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