Daughter of victim in 1989 cold case begins fight for justice

RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - It's a 30-year-old mystery that may have been solved last month - the disappearance of two women in Rapides Parish. Robert "Bobby" Brunson Blair, 71 of Alexandria, the husband of one of them, is now facing two counts of first-degree murder.

Photo of Isabelle Blair provided to the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office by her family. (Source: RPSO)

Iris Seekamp was only 10 when her mother, Isabelle Blair, went missing. Isabelle was Bobby Blair's wife at the time and Blair was Seekamp's stepfather.

"My mom was very feisty," Seekamp told us. "She was strong-willed."

Last month, the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office announced a major break in a cold case from 1989, the disappearance and murders of two women - Isabelle Blair and her friend, Marian Coutee.

The memories of Seekamp's mother are still there 30 years later, even the painful ones.

"She was trying to leave him (Blair)," said Seekamp. "She just wanted to leave. It wasn't a divorce or anything I knew of, or formal. I just knew she wanted to leave."

Seekamp said her mother's relationship with Blair was rocky. As she knew the story, her mother was trying to get out and called on Coutee for help. Coutee came to the rescue in a pick-up truck - the same one we saw last month get pulled out of a pond on a piece of property once owned by the Blair family.

"The last thing she said to me was, remember I'll always love you. Take care of your brother," Seekamp said through tears.

Seekamp would go on to eventually move to Wisconsin, where she joined us by phone for this interview. But, she always wondered what happened to her mother.

"We always knew she was there," she said of the property that remains were found on just a few weeks ago. Those remains are at the LSU FACES Lab in Baton Rouge to be identified.

As Seekamp's family saw it, they were fighting a political titan. Blair's father, the late Cecil Blair, was a major player in Rapides Parish politics as a state senator.

She said she threw up when she saw Bobby's mugshot.

"Because of the fact that his dad was a state senator, he would never let them on the property," said Seekamp.

Since Blair's arrest last month, the Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office has begun a battle to prosecute a case that predates most people in the office.

"There are many challenges," said District Attorney Phillip Terrell of the challenges with cold cases. "Oftentimes, a lot of people involved, witnesses are deceased. Evidence is lost. Physical evidence is misplaced. Many things have happened. Investigators have moved on or have passed away."

Fortunately, in this case, the investigator at the time, Mark Baden, is still with the sheriff's office.

Just this summer, another cold case, this one nearly 40-years-old of the murder of 17-year-old Donna Gayle Brazzell, was apparently solved too. It's a bit of optimism in the DA's Office about finally finding answers, for now, two families.

"I think it's unusual," said Terrell of the back-to-back closings of two cold cases. "I don't recall it ever happening in the years that I have been practicing law, certainly not since I have been DA."

Seekamp says she waits for the day when she gets to talk to Blair face to face, as the long road to justice begins.

"I have waited my whole life to say something to this man," she said. "Because I knew what he did."

Blair remains in the Rapides Parish jail on a $2 million bond. The case has not gone to a grand jury yet.

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