Suspect in Cross County church murder held without bond

Rene Bourassa as he was led into court Wednesday.
Rene Bourassa as he was led into court Wednesday.
A profile photo Bourassa posted on Facebook.
A profile photo Bourassa posted on Facebook.

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

CROSS COUNTY, AR (WMC-TV) - The man accused of killing an 80-year-old woman inside an Arkansas church appeared in court for the first time Wednesday.

Rene Bourassa, described by investigators as a drifter, is charged with capitol murder in the death of Lillian Wilson, who was killed inside her own church.

According to investigators, Bourassa was just passing through Hamlin, a small town near Wynne, when his car broke down.  Police believe Bourassa came upon Central Methodist Church, broke in, and used it as a place to stay for several days.

On June 6, Wilson walked into the church, apparently discovering Bourassa inside.  According to an affidavit of probable cause, he beat her to death with a brass cross, and then stole her purse and her car, a 2003 Mercury Marquis.

Five miles away, he stopped at a gas station to fill up.  He was later captured by surveillance cameras across five states, from Arkansas to Washington.

Three days after the murder, an acquaintance in Bremerton, Washington called police, saying Bourassa had showed up at his house driving Wilson's car with the tags still on it.  Inside, Bourassa had a sleeping bag, a laptop computer, and two 5-gallon gas jugs.

According to the affidavit, in an interview with police, Bourassa confessed to everything.

Wednesday morning, a judge found probable cause to hold Bourassa without bond.

Instead of being housed at the Cross County Jail, Bourassa was taken to a nearby state facility the Cross County sheriff said is better equipped to handle an inmate facing such serious charges.

The sheriff noted Bourassa's case has received a lot of attention.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.