PORT ALLEN — While State Police investigators on Monday were still trying to unravel how a 23-year-old Addis woman was fatally shot by her husband last week, the students, parents and staff at the close-knit, Catholic school where the victim worked struggled to come to grips with the tragedy they say has sent a ripple of grief throughout the community.
“She just always had a smile on her face. She was just an absolutely wonderful person,” Brandi Daigle said Monday morning as she held back tears on the campus of Holy Family School in Port Allen where Emily Thibodeaux was in the middle of her first year as a third-grade teacher when she was killed Friday.
Thibodeaux, who taught Daigle’s son Drew, also coached the school’s fifth- and sixth-grade cheerleading squads. Daigle said she was a family friend of Thibodeaux for years before she started teaching at Holy Family in August.
Daigle’s son, she said, enjoyed attending Thibodeaux’s class.
The shooting happened about 4 p.m. Friday at the trailer home Thibodeaux shared with her husband, Ivy Thibodeaux, in the 3600 block of East Nic Street in Addis.
Ivy Thibodeaux, 29, is a reserve officer with the Addis Police Department. He was off-duty at the time of the shooting.
State Police on Monday revealed no new information on the circumstances of the incident.
“The cause remains under investigation,” Trooper 1st Class Bryan Lee said.
Attempts by The Advocate to reach Ivy Thibodeaux on Monday were unsuccessful.
Addis Police Chief Ricky Anderson said Thibodeaux had been a reserve officer with his police force for about a year-and-a-half.
“Nothing is going to happen to him until the investigation is over,” Anderson said Monday. “But given the situation, I don’t think he’ll come back as a reserve.”
In the meantime, the parents and staff of Holy Family School are trying to find the words to help the kids Emily Thibodeaux taught deal with their grief over a teacher some viewed as a second mom to their children.
“I’ve cried 10 times already,” Zoe Rizzutto, one of Emily’s Thibodeaux’s third-grade students, said Monday morning while visiting the slain teacher’s memorial on the school’s campus. “She really loved our class — even though she fussed at us sometimes to use our minds.”
The memorial for Thibodeaux featured a framed photo of the young woman that was surrounded by fresh flowers, Mardi Gras beads, balloons and a huge sign with the words “We Love & Miss You. Rest in Peace Mrs. Emily Thibodeaux. From Your Third Grade Students” printed in royal blue letters.
“We did it so the students could begin the healing process and grieve and contribute to help them with the loss,” said Michael Comeau, the school’s principal. “She will be deeply missed.”
Residents stopped by all weekend to pay their respects and write heartfelt messages on the sign from her class, and two more poster boards sitting on easels near the memorial.
“It’s a shame. She just had the most quiet demeanor,” recalls Theresa Rizzutto, Zoe Rizzutto’s grandmother and a volunteer worker at Holy Family. “I just saw her casually sometimes in the cafeteria when I volunteered. I would speak to her and she always thanked me for working here.”
“This is a tragic loss for Holy Family,” Comeau said. “She was a wonderful teacher who loved her kids, loved God and loved being a part of those children’s lives.”
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.