00:48 - Source: CNN
Family rescues kidnapped woman

Story highlights

Cousin said kidnapper began stabbing victim, so he fired several shots

About 20 relatives had joined police search in rural area near kidnapper's abandoned car

Sheriff's department concluded shooting was justified to save victim

Kidnapper had previously violated restraining order protecting victim

CNN  — 

A man looking for his abducted cousin kicked in the back door of an abandoned house and shot and killed her kidnapper, authorities in Louisiana said.

The shooting Friday has been ruled justified by the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Department.

The cousin, whose name was withheld by the sheriff’s department, said he heard screams from the house, said Sheriff’s Capt. Kip Judice.

The cousin said he saw a man start stabbing 29-year-old Bethany Arceneaux when he broke through the door. The cousin fired several shots with a handgun, but he told police he wasn’t sure if he hit the kidnapper in the dark house, Judice said.

Inside, officers found the body of Scott Thomas, who had a child with Arceneaux and had previously violated a restraining order protecting her, Judice said.

Arceneaux was hospitalized with wounds but is expected to recover, the sheriff’s captain said.

Arceneaux disappeared Wednesday night. Thomas’ car was found that night abandoned behind a cane field about a mile from a road.

Police and bloodhounds had searched the area without success on Thursday. On Friday morning, police were met by about 20 relatives who had organized their own search party, Judice said.

Officers and relatives searched until about noon, when the cousin found the house.

“The cousin was at the right spot when he heard the screams,” Judice said.

The sheriff’s department concluded the cousin acted within a state law that allows deadly force to be used to prevent great bodily harm or death, Judice said. The case also will be reviewed by the district attorney, he said.

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David Simpson contributed to this report.