Worried relatives had been trying for days to get in touch with a Mid-City man who was found stabbed to death inside his house on Friday morning, and police were questioning his wife about how he was killed.
Billie Ray Jacobs, 63, was found dead steps inside the side door of his house in the 2000 block of Dumaine Street about 9:30 a.m.
His death marked the end of a remarkable streak for New Orleans in which 18 days passed since the discovery of a homicide victim. October has seen fewer killings in the city — two — than any month since at least 2011.
New Orleans Police Department spokesman Officer Garry Flot said the killing was initially reported as a medical call.
The Fire Department had to breach the door to reach the man. Inside the house, authorities also found the dead man’s wife, Brenda Jacobs, 62.
Police called the death a homicide and were questioning Brenda Jacobs but did not say whether she was a suspect.
Billie Ray Jacobs’ great-niece, Latoya Foley, said it had been three days since he stopped responding to telephone calls from relatives. She said her worried uncle went to the house and found him dead, then called police.
A neighbor who declined to give her name said Jacobs was a good man who kept to himself. The most the man neighbors called “Mr. Billie” would do outside, she said, was walk his dog or sit in his backyard.
“These people didn’t bother nobody,” the woman said.
Although Jacobs’ death was only the second homicide reported in New Orleans this month, an unusually low tally, the number of shootings has not dropped at the same time, perhaps suggesting New Orleans’ criminals are simply missing their targets more often.
So far this month, police have recorded 35 aggravated batteries by shooting, a number higher than the 34 noted in September or the 28 in August, both of which saw more murders.
“Are they just missing or giving warning shots more efficiently?” mused Peter Scharf, a criminologist at the LSU School of Public Health. He speculated that warring drug gangs may have reached a truce, or else the drop was simply a product of good luck. “We probably know a lot less than we think we know about this,” he said.
Scharf said the trend would need to continue for several months to draw any definitive conclusions from it.
Despite the downturn, one advocate for victims of violence said she was not celebrating yet.
“Oh no, honey. I don’t celebrate those things. I just thank God that something is resonating in the community,” said Tamara Jackson, executive director of the group Silence Is Violence.
“I pray that as the holidays and as this year’s end approaches, that we can continue not to have as many homicide victims,” she said. “Or better yet, none at all.”