Britnee Stewart never imagined life without her twin sister.
Breon Stewart was born three minutes before her, and for the next 23 years, she remained in the lead as the pair grew up, their lives never straying far from each other. Both of them performed as majorettes and played softball and volleyball on the same teams.
The twins took part in everything except for basketball, Britnee Stewart said, “because we didn’t want to break our nails.”
Breon Stewart pushed her younger sister, who tended to procrastinate, to study. When both graduated from George Washington Carver High School in 2011, Breon Stewart was the valedictorian, and her sister was the salutatorian.
When the two sisters both found out they were pregnant last year, Breon Stewart easily slid through the months as her sister struggled through morning sickness.
“Everybody thought we planned it, but we really didn’t,” Britnee Stewart said. “Our pregnancy made us get even closer than we were before.”
On the night of Dec. 15, a few weeks after Britnee Stewart gave birth to her daughter, a pregnant Breon Stewart smiled at the foot of her sister’s bed just before she left with her boyfriend, Lionel Delpit III, a Mardi Gras Indian chief.
Neither ever returned. Breon Stewart and her boyfriend were gunned down minutes later outside a New Orleans East apartment in an unsolved killing that shocked the city.
After struggling for months with pain and loss, Britnee Stewart is hoping the killings are not forgotten.
“I just don’t want it to be a cold case,” she said Thursday. “It’s kind of slipping away.”
Police have revealed little about their investigation, which began when Breon Stewart and Delpit, 25, were shot to death along with their unborn child in a parking lot at the Wind Run Apartments in the 12100 block of the Interstate 10 Service Road.
Delpit was the big chief of the Black Feather Mardi Gras Indian tribe. He was convicted of heroin distribution in 2012, but friends said he had turned his life around and was looking forward to the birth of his son.
Britnee Stewart said she could not think of a reason why anyone would want to kill her pregnant sister, an aspiring nursing student known for her sunny disposition.
New Orleans Police Department Cmdr. Doug Eckert said in December that police believed the killing “wasn’t a random act.”
Tyler Gamble, a Police Department spokesman, said the investigation is ongoing and police have no updates to offer for now.
Hoping to remind the public about the slaying and perhaps spur a tipster to come forward to authorities, Breon Stewart’s family planned a candlelight memorial in her honor Friday evening at 10001 Lake Forest Blvd., not far from where the killings occurred.
The memorial also was planned to honor the victim of another unsolved killing, Myeisha McDaniels, a 22-year-old who was killed in Central City on Jan. 2.
The pain from all those killings has reverberated in the city at large.
Queen Black Feather Gaynell Sorina, who was close to Delpit and his father, said she has been forced to take a step back from the Mardi Gras Indian tribe’s day-to-day activities and has missed months of work.
The killing of Delpit’s unborn son, who was to be named after him, dealt her and his family a double blow.
“If we didn’t have him, at least we could have had his seed to raise and still have a part of him here,” Sorina said.
Britnee Stewart said she kept her head down through her sister’s Dec. 26 funeral and barely remembers any of it. She relies on therapy and her family to support her.
Her family was deeply devout before the killing, she said, but she now falters when she tries to pray.
Britnee Stewart said her baby daughter, Bradley, “came as my guardian angel. ... If she was never born, I really wouldn’t have nothing to live for.”
When she gets depressed, Britnee Stewart said, she picks up her little girl and thinks about the way her sister, whose due date was Dec. 29, would have wanted her to carry on.
Britnee Stewart said she always was known as the bratty half of the twins, while her sister was known as the “breezy” one.
Breon Stewart would tease her and tell her to behave better toward other people, she said, “because your karma is going to come back on my niece.”
“It’s kind of like she was preparing me to be independent,” Britnee Stewart said. “It has to be solved. Justice has to be served. If Breon could get killed like that, what chance do I have?”