A Denham Springs man accused of repeatedly attacking his girlfriend over the past 15 years was arrested Tuesday after police said he stabbed her to death in her front yard.
Gwendolyn Ann Thomas, 52, got into an argument with Kent Scott, 51, her on-again, off-again boyfriend, about 7:30 a.m. inside her home at 424 Louise St., Denham Springs police spokesman Glenn Lemoine said. Eventually, the altercation led them outside, where he stabbed her multiple times, Lemoine said.
The attack was witnessed by two neighbors.
Officers arrived to find both Scott and Thomas covered in blood.
“He was on his knee with his hands on her shoulder, and he called out her name a couple times,” Lemoine said. “They pulled him off of her and placed him in handcuffs.”
Thomas suffered serious injuries and was taken to O’Neal Lane Ochsner Health Center, where she died, Lemoine said.
Scott, also known as Kenneth Scott, had been arrested at least three other times for violent altercations with Thomas, including in June 1999, when he was accused of brutally stabbing her while on unsupervised probation for a separate battery charge and two counts of resisting an officer. The charges stemming from that stabbing were later dropped.
Scott also was arrested April 5 of this year after Thomas said he punched her in the face and head and pushed her through a door. Prosecutors rejected the case after reviewing the police report, which noted that Thomas was intoxicated at the time and that both parties claimed the other person was the aggressor, District Attorney Scott Perrilloux said.
A federal judge declined in May to revoke Scott’s supervised release on a prior weapons charge based on the April 5 altercation.
Thomas was granted a protective order against Scott. The order was still in effect Tuesday.
“It’s just a piece of paper,” Thomas’ two nieces and a friend said in unison Tuesday afternoon.
Several of Thomas’ family members and a family friend said that when they arrived at the hospital after Thomas had died, the head nurse would not allow them to see her body.
“They wouldn’t let us see the body because it was so mutilated,” said Octavia Rheams, a niece to Thomas.
Police used a police dog to locate the murder weapon, a pocket knife Lemoine estimated to be 4 or 5 inches long and that appeared to have been stashed away.
Two neighbors, one person driving by and another who lives a street over and was taking a walk at the time, told police they saw Scott stabbing Thomas in her yard.
Police interviewed Scott at the Denham Springs Police Department.
“He said he went to her house this morning and met her at the back door, that she made him a sandwich,” Lemoine said. “Then she was at the front door. He said she started bleeding, and he didn’t know what happened.”
A policeman regularly patrols that area after one homicide last year and another a couple months ago, Lemoine said, and he quickly responded to the scene.
Scott was booked in the Livingston Parish Detention Center on a count of second-degree murder. Bail was set at $150,000, according to online jail records.
Police are uncertain what started the altercation, but the investigation is ongoing.
Thomas’ family said she had an irregular relationship with Scott over the years and that she was trying to get away from him.
Sharon Lee, sister to Thomas, said Thomas had been dealing with Scott’s abuse for years, including when he first stabbed her in the throat in 1999.
That attack, which spilled over from the couple’s apartment to another and eventually the parking lot at 600 Eugene St., Denham Springs, led to Scott’s booking on a count of attempted second-degree murder, as well as aggravated assault for Scott’s threats against a 16-year-old boy who had tried to help Thomas.
Affidavits for his arrest at the time say Scott stabbed Thomas “without provocation, and chased her continually stabbing her as she tried to escape these attacks.”
“Thomas was taken to the hospital and told police officers she feared for her life,” Officer Paul Golman wrote in the affidavit.
Three years later, Scott was again arrested after officers arrived at the Eugene Street apartment to find Thomas “with red bloodshot eye and busted upper lip.” Thomas told officers Scott had hit her and that she wanted to file charges.
“I will not drop these charges under any circumstances,” Thomas wrote in her witness statement.
Scott was booked on a slew of counts, including domestic abuse battery, possession of crack cocaine and three counts of battery to a police officer. Denham Springs police also notified Scott’s probation and parole officer of his arrest, according to the police report.
In March 2003, Scott’s earlier probation was revoked, and he was sentenced to five years with the state Department of Corrections for the drug charge, and six months each for battery on a police officer and criminal damage to property.
A year later, in July 2004, Scott was out of jail and wanted again on a probation or parole violation. When officers found him at a residence with a revolver in his hand, it triggered a federal charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Scott pleaded guilty to the count and was sentenced in September 2005 to 160 months in prison and four years of supervised release. The prison sentence was later reduced to 120 months.
Details about Scott’s release from federal custody were not immediately available Tuesday, although court records indicate his federal supervised release began in May 2013.
“He has been in a correction facility on and off all his life,” said Sharon Lee, Thomas’ sister.
Lee, who said she worked at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for 25 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from University of Phoenix, said she does not understand how the law had let Scott walk free.
“How was he out on the streets?” Lee asked, exasperated.
“I don’t want second-degree. I want first-degree. This is a career criminal,” Lee said, adding that Scott “preyed on the weak.”
Lee said she is appalled at the community’s lack of action when it saw Scott abusing her sister. Even though many of her neighbors knew about the ongoing abuse, they did nothing, Lee said.
“Everyone was still being friendly to him,” she said. “The justice system and the citizens of Denham Springs, where I grew up, failed us.”
Thomas worked as a caregiver to the elderly and others and would give the shirt off her back to help another, the family said.
The mother of two and grandmother of two had recently invited family and friends to her home for a fish fry Saturday.
“She loved to cook,” said Laquinta Lee, one of Thomas’ nieces. “She was full of life.”