Last updated: 9:39 p.m., April 4, 2016
Two families could only watch helplessly as a state family services worker drove an orphaned baby girl away from the scene of a double homicide in Kenner on Monday morning.
Hours earlier, the newborn had lain next to her mother, Dawn Scott, 28, and father, Raynell Kimbrough, 31, as they were shot to death in a bedroom. Now police are searching for clues in the double slaying that sent grief rippling through their two families.
Kenner Police Lt. Brian McGregor said Scott’s three children — two boys, ages 10 and 2, and the girl, Rayne Kimbrough, who was born last month — were inside the brick apartment at 2144 Idaho Ave. when the shooting happened.
The 10-year-old heard gunshots and walked into his parents’ upstairs bedroom to see his mother covered in blood, according to police. The boy ran to the apartment of a neighbor, who called police shortly before 7 a.m.
Authorities found Scott lying in the bed next to her daughter. Raynell Kimbrough was on the floor next to the bed. Both were dead.
Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich, the Jefferson Parish coroner, said Scott suffered wounds to her head and the left side of her torso. Kimbrough was shot in the head and the left flank. Both deaths have been classified as homicides.
None of the three children inside the apartment was harmed. Catherine Heitman, a Department of Children & Family Services spokeswoman, said all three were “safe in a foster home.”
Police did not announce a motive or a suspect Monday.
Among the mysteries that investigators were probing: There were no signs of forced entry at the apartment.
McGregor said detectives had questioned one person who had spent time living with the couple in the apartment. He described the man as a “person of interest” in the investigation but declined to give his name.
Officers were also “concentrating” on a gold- or champagne-colored vehicle, possibly a Ford Taurus, seen leaving the area immediately after the shooting, McGregor said.
As police looked for answers, family members gathered on a small lawn in front of the apartment. Some shouted in anguish, some wept, and others looked on in stony silence.
Ellen Scott, 51, raised her voice to let her family know that God would guide them through the loss of her daughter, just as he guided her through a struggle with cancer.
“Give us the strength, give us the strength,” Scott said to family members huddled around her. “Oh Lord, my heart is so heavy.”
Scott said she had talked to her daughter on Sunday night and nothing seemed amiss. She and other family members could think of no reason why the killer would target her.
“She was a good girl. I can’t say anything else,” Scott said.
Kimbrough’s sisters also said they were mystified by the killing of their brother, who they said held a steady job at a warehouse.
“My brother was a loving person. He may have had his ups, and he may have had his downs, but he never would do nobody what they did him,” Shaketha Kimbrough said. “And for them to literally put his girlfriend in the middle of this — a mother of three — I mean why?”
She said the couple had been together for about a year. Just a month before the shooting, they celebrated a baby shower.
“Whatever it may have been, it was cold-hearted. And the last person you have to answer to is God, and he’s going to handle it,” Shaketha Kimbrough said. “Whoever you may be.”
The couple had moved into the small apartment complex only about a month ago, said neighbor Gabriel Gonzales, 24. Kimbrough went by the nickname “Pluck” and Scott by “Tootie,” he said, and the children often played with others in the apartment complex.
Both parents were conscientious neighbors, according to Jessica Marchan, who lives next door. But about two weeks ago, another man who gave her “bad vibes” started occasionally staying in their apartment with them. She did not know his name, and she slept through the shooting itself, she said.
Late Monday morning, members of both families cried out in relief when they saw tiny Rayne, swaddled in a blanket and safe. Then they watched in anguish — and shouted in anger — as they realized a worker was taking the children into the state’s custody.
Ellen Scott leaned inside the car to take one last look at the children before they left. Then a Kenner police detective closed the vehicle’s door, and they were gone.
Scott said she would be in court Tuesday morning to seek custody of the children. Heitman, the Department of Children & Family Services spokeswoman, said a judge would oversee a hearing on their placement within 72 hours.
“DCFS makes every effort to place a child with a relative,” Heitman wrote in an email. “However, before doing so, DCFS must assess each of the individuals offering to care for the child/children.”
The killings of Scott and Kimbrough are the second and third homicides this year in Kenner. Hy’Keem Martin, a 19-year-old from Reserve, was killed Jan. 22 in the 2100 block of 43rd Street.
Kenner police asked anyone with information on the killings to call Detective Harold Pendergast at (504) 712-2226 or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.