Corey Nauck Jr. is only 5 years old, but he’s now had two younger half-brothers die.
The death this week of 7-month-old Carter Joseph Nauck, who police say was beaten to death by his father Corey Nauck Sr., followed the death of Tanner Nauck, who was ruled to have died of natural causes at the age of 4 months from a heart defect in August 2015.
For those who live in the Naucks' small Folsom neighborhood, the news of the latest death came as a shock.
When Barbara Brewster saw Corey Nauck Sr. relaxing outside his house along with his wife, his baby and the baby’s grandmother last weekend, she never would have imagined that would be the last time she saw them together.
“I was just dumbfounded,” Brewster said. “Every time I’ve seen him with his little boy he’s been a wonderful dad.”
She didn’t see them too often, but that wasn’t concerning to Brewster. Most people in the neighborhood along Pearl Street keep to themselves, she said, though they still care for each other.
That’s why, when little Carter was born seven months ago, she and other neighbors were overjoyed.
“We were absolutely delighted when they had another baby,” Brewster said.
She was especially happy for the family because she knew of Tanner’s death from congenital heart disease in 2015.
St. Tammany Parish Coroner Charles Preston will now take another look at that case and will likely reclassify the death's cause as “undetermined,” according to a spokesman.
Carter Nauck’s death was the first homicide Preston's office has had to deal with in 2018 after handling 20 in 2017 — a record high for St. Tammany.
That first homicide became official on Wednesday when Carter Nauck died — two days after his father brought him to a local hospital with unexplained injuries. He was then transferred to a hospital on the south shore, where he died.
Detectives located Corey Nauck Sr. at a family member’s home in Gulfport, Mississippi, where he was arrested. Nauck later admitted that he hit his son because he was annoyed by his crying, authorities said.
Neighbors said that’s not the story they heard at first, with varying accounts about how the child was injured, followed by rumors that he had died.
One of the neighbors hearing those rumors was Rodney London, who first heard the baby had died from his 9-year-old son. “When I first heard it from him, I didn’t quite believe it at first,” he said.
Brewster said it’s going to be tough not seeing the baby in the neighborhood anymore, even though she only got to see him up close one time — about two weeks ago, when she went to say “hello” to the grandmother holding him on the porch of the Naucks' house on Pearl Street.
“He was a big, healthy-looking baby. Just smiling, smiling, smiling,” she said.
Bella Friedrichs, the mother of Corey Nauck Jr., said she did not want to make any comment.
Friedrichs was not the mother of Corey Nauck Sr.’s other two children, both now dead. Their mother was Missy Nauck, according to Corey Nauck Sr.’s Facebook post after Carter’s birth.
Through her attorney, Missy Nauck said she had no comment.
Brewster said that if she had known Corey Nauck Sr. was having a problem, she would have been there to help.
“It breaks my heart that this was a boy in this community who snapped and nobody saw it coming, and I have to ask, ‘Why?’ ” she said. “This is heaven. It’s a great community. You don’t have to lock your doors.”
Corey Nauck Sr. now faces a count of first-degree murder, which carries the possibility of the death penalty in Louisiana.
Staff writer Sara Pagones contributed to this report.