“She was always there to pick me up,” Felicia Broussard told Dateline. “We call each other sister.”
Thirty-three-year-old Ella Goodie disappeared on March 9, 2022.
Ella is from Lafayette, Louisiana. That’s where she met her best friend and “big sister” Felicia – more than 22 years ago.
Felicia said the two bonded in a detention home for troubled teens. “I kind of always wanted to look out for her since we met,” Felicia said. “Growing up, she had it a little more rougher than the average person.”
Felicia told Dateline that Ella’s mother is handicapped. She said that from a young age, Ella was her mother’s caretaker. “She had to step up as a kid—look after her brother, help her mama,” Felicia said. Ella has one sibling -- a younger brother. “She was like a caretaker for him, and I was hers.”
Felicia said to know Ella, is to love her. “Her vibe was always good,” Felicia told Dateline. “No matter what she’s going through, she always has a good spirit.”
Felicia told Dateline that earlier this year Ella was looking for work, so she suggested her friend start working for Lyft. “She didn’t really want people in her vehicle,” Felicia said. “But I kind of talked her into it.”
Felicia said Ella ended up enjoying it and eventually decided to do it on her own. “She started doing rideshare without the app,” Felicia said. “I guess she thought without the app she could make more money.”
Felicia spoke to Ella just one day before she disappeared – Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
“We were just talking about our weekend,” Felicia recalled. “She had met people and she had been bringing them places.”
That was the last conversation Felicia had with her friend.
Felicia told Dateline she called Ella on Wednesday and didn’t get a response. By Thursday, March 10, Felicia was concerned and rang up one of Ella’s two teenage children.
“I’m like, ‘You let your mama know to call me,’” Felicia recalled. She said the kids didn’t tell her that they hadn’t seen their mother since Wednesday. “They didn’t tell me anything until I called them again on Friday,” Felicia said. “She had said she was gonna do a [trip] to Texas and she would be back at night—maybe they felt there was no need to panic.”
But Ella never returned.
Felicia told Dateline that by Saturday, March 11, her concern turned to sheer panic. “I grabbed my brothers and whoever wanted to help,” Felicia said.
According to Felicia, on March 11, Ella’s brother reported her missing.
The Louisiana State Police Department is investigating Ella’s disappearance. A press release posted on April 1, confirmed that Ella was last seen on March 9, 2022. The release was later updated to say that Ella’s black 2012 Audi Q5 had been found 13 hours away in St. Joseph, Missouri and that “investigators from Louisiana State Police, Scott Police Department, and St. Joseph Police Department will continue to work together to locate Ella Quiana Goodie who is still missing.”
On May 3, the Louisiana State Police Department posted an update on their Facebook page. It stated that “based on investigative techniques and witness statements, detectives and investigators have transitioned from a missing person’s case to a homicide investigation.”
Dateline spoke with to Louisiana State Police Department Trooper Derek Senegal about the case. In an email he said Ella was last seen driving her 2012 Audi Q5 around the Calcasieu Parish area with passenger, Brandon Francisco.
Trooper Senegal told Dateline that during the investigation Francisco was named as a person of interest but has not been charged.
Senegal told Dateline that there are no further updates pertaining to the investigation at this time.
On March 25, two weeks after Ella vanished, Francisco was arrested for an unrelated case from 2018.
Dateline spoke with Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell and the lead prosecutor on Francisco’s case, Brian Cespiva. Cespiva told Dateline that Francisco was initially charged with various crimes including second-degree murder, theft of an automobile and obstruction of justice. “He tried to kill the individual on the side of the road,” Cespiva said.
Francisco pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge and was sentenced earlier this month to 30 years in prison.
Cespiva said this was not the first time Francisco had been convicted of a violent crime. The prosecutor told Dateline that Francisco previously served a 10 year sentence for the attempted murder of his then wife, whom “he stabbed multiple times” in the early 2000s.
District Attorney Terrell told Dateline that his office is aware that Francisco is considered a person of interest in Ella’s disappearance. “We understand that those investigations are ongoing and, you know, we have no active part in them,” Terrell said. “But we stand ready to help them in any way we can.”
Dateline also spoke with Francisco’s attorney of record, Tiffany Sanders, who said she has not been contacted in regards to Francisco being a person of interest in Ella’s disappearance.
Meanwhile, Ella’s friends and family are still looking for answers.
“I’ll still continue my journey of putting her picture up at every gas station,” Ella’s best friend, Felicia, said. “I believe in God, so I know we’re going to get justice for her.”
Ella is 5’3” tall, 125 lbs., with brown hair and brown eyes. She has several tattoos including a Houston Texans bull in the middle of her neck. And, Felicia said, “She’s beautiful.”
Anyone with information regarding Ella’s disappearance is asked to call the Louisiana State Police Department at 318-484-2194.