NEW ROADS — Beulah Morris would have celebrated her 92nd birthday on June 4.
But on Wednesday, instead of looking forward to a family celebration in a little more than a month, Connie Morris was confronted with having to start making funeral arrangements after finding her 91-year-old mother dead Tuesday afternoon in the kitchen of her home at 8623 Pecan Drive East in New Roads.
Connie Morris wept when she was asked to talk about what had happened to her mother.
“I opened the door and she was just lying there on the floor,” Connie Morris, 53, said while seated in the living room of her residence in the 1100 block of St. Mary Street, a short drive from her mother’s house.
“I can’t sleep,” she said. “I keep having flashbacks. I don’t even know how long she had been dead.”
Connie Morris said she was asked to go check on her mother after Beulah Morris didn’t answer the door when Beulah Morris’ son, who is Connie Morris’ brother, stopped by to drop off a package Tuesday.
When her brother “came knocking on my door yesterday, I knew something was wrong,” Connie Morris said. “He stopped by my house and said all the lights were on and he heard the TV going. I thought I would have opened the door and maybe found her sitting in the bed, but she was right there, at the edge of the door. She was in the kitchen, wrapped up in a quilt, or blanket. The bed was untouched. I didn’t see anything out of place.”
Connie said Beulah Morris, the mother of four daughters and a son, had been living in her house alone since her husband died in 2002.
Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres said Wednesday afternoon the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. Her death became the parish’s first homicide of 2013, he said. Investigators, meanwhile, were awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine the time of death.
Torres said detectives had ruled out the possibility that Beulah Morris was killed during a robbery attempt because nothing was taken from the home.
Torres said his detectives were pursuing every lead available in order to find and arrest Beulah Morris’ killer.
“This is very unique. It’s a quiet area. We don’t have random acts of violence like this here,” Torres said.
Neighbors said they were shocked by what had happened in Beulah Morris’ home.
A number of them said the killing had brought for the first time to their quiet, dead-end street an invasion of police cars and flashing lights.
“We don’t have this kind of stuff in our neighborhood; somebody is always home,” Harold Terrance, 63, said. “There’s nothing but mostly older people that live on this street. Most of us have been living here for more than 40 years.”
Annette Battley, who said she had lived across the street from Beulah Morris for 43 years, described the victim as a God-fearing woman who “stayed to herself” and loved working in her yard and garden.
“I’m going to miss her; I learned a lot from this woman,” Battley, 73, said. “She would tell me how to plant a garden; we talked about our children. She was just a very nice old lady.
“I wish I had seen something — or someone,” Battley added. “I wish I could have done more.”
Other neighbors agreed that they didn’t notice any strangers visiting or loitering in the vicinity of Beulah Morris’ home. Several said the last time they saw her alive was on Saturday or Sunday.
“I think she may have been dead in there at least two days, maybe longer,” Shirley Derosin said. “The only thing that caught my attention was seeing her lights on all day long since Saturday. But I just figured she may have went on vacation to visit family and left them on. She usually goes on vacation this time of year.”
Derosin said Beulah Morris rarely received any visitors at all: “The only person I see usually going there is her grandson.”
Connie Morris said she talked to her mother over the phone Saturday for the last time.
“I truly don’t know; I just can’t understand what happened,” Connie Morris said. “How could someone do this to her? It just doesn’t make any sense.”
to this report. Advocate staff writer Steven Ward contributed