A desperate call for help early Wednesday from a woman who had been shot in the face led to the discovery of a quadruple homicide, with victims in two units at a Metairie apartment building.
It was the third multiple murder in Jefferson Parish this year.
Every victim of the massacre at 2508 Pasadena Ave. was shot or stabbed in the head, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said.
The perpetrator or perpetrators were still on the loose as of Wednesday evening.
“They were good people, and their families didn’t deserve to go through this,” neighbor Jeff Pawlisz, 57, said of the victims.
Sheriff Newell Normand said a 33-year-old woman called 911 about 3:30 a.m. to report that she had been shot in the face inside an apartment. As paramedics rushed the woman to University Medical Center, responding deputies made the gruesome discovery of three bodies inside Apartment G.
Elder care worker Rosemary Charles, 61, and her live-in boyfriend, John Edward Henry, 56, had both been shot once in the head. A visiting family friend, Kyle Turner, 40, had been shot twice in the head.
Detectives did not find any evidence of forced entry at Charles’ apartment, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said.
More than five hours later, deputies canvassing the complex discovered that the tenant in Apartment B, 56-year-old Harold Frisard, had been killed by multiple stab wounds to the head.
The Sheriff’s Office had not released the names of any suspects or announced a suspected motive in the killings as of early Wednesday evening. However, residents of the apartment complex pointed to what they described as ongoing crime problems — including drug transactions — at the complex as a potential factor.
Detectives were still canvassing the complex for witnesses' statements on Wednesday evening as they tried to hash out what happened.
Charles’ son, Leroy Lewis, said he spoke with his mother after midnight when he got off work. A few hours after her death, he choked back tears as he recalled their short conversation.
“She was laughing. I told her I’d see her tomorrow,” Lewis said.
Lewis said Turner, his best friend, was visiting Lewis' mother at the apartment, as he often did. Lewis’ girlfriend, Kelly Smith, said that Charles was known to welcome acquaintances from her home neighborhood of River Ridge into the apartment.
“She takes everybody in. Opens doors to all her neighbors,” Smith said. She said she believed that hospitality may have led to Charles’ death. “She didn’t have no enemies at all,” Smith said.
Pawlisz, the neighbor, said he heard a series of loud screams from Frisard’s apartment below him about 2:30 a.m.
“He said, ‘Please don’t do it! Don’t do it!’ And he was screaming at the top of his lungs,” Pawlisz said.
However, Pawlisz said that loud noises coming from Frisard’s apartment were not unusual. He was also used to hearing gunshots in a neighborhood which is “not the best,” he said. He and his girlfriend decided to stay in bed.
“We didn’t take it seriously,” Pawlisz said. “That could have been another catastrophe.”
About 3:30 a.m., the 33-year-old woman who had been shot to the face in Apartment G emerged screaming from her apartment, according to a tenant who declined to give her name for fear of retribution.
“She was just saying she didn’t want to die. Don’t let her die,” the tenant said.
That surviving victim was in stable condition after undergoing surgery, Normand said.
She described the man who shot her as an unknown male, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said.
The quadruple homicide was the third with two or more victims in Jefferson Parish this year. On Jan. 20, gunman Sylvester Holt killed his wife and Westwego Police Officer Michael Louviere and later himself in a string of events that made national headlines. Two days later, a man, his girlfriend and his 16-year-old sister were shot outside another Metairie apartment building.
As news of the latest mass killing spread to the victims’ friends and acquaintances, more than a dozen of them hovered around the edges of the crime scene Wednesday morning.
Family members huddled in anguished prayer as a Coroner’s Office official confirmed that their loved ones had died. But the eerie calm outside the apartment building was also twice broken by the sight of deputies running with guns drawn.
Just before 7:30 a.m., a loud “boom” echoed through the air. Detectives who rushed into the apartment building with guns drawn discovered that a gun belonging to one of the victims had gone off as a crime scene technician tried to clear a live round from the weapon, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said. Two deputies received minor scratches from concrete sent flying by the bullet.
Then, about an hour later, deputies strapped on body armor and ran into the complex’s courtyard with an assault rifle and battering ram. That apparently was in response to the discovery of Frisard’s body.
As the day wore on, residents at the small complex said they were still fearful of aftershocks from the killings.
Pawlisz said drug use was “rampant” at the complex. Roughly a year ago, the building’s owner installed a pair of security cameras on a platform overlooking the courtyard in response to complaints, he said.
“Last summer it was like the Wild West around here,” he said. “It got quiet when he put the cameras up.”
Pawlisz said he knew and liked Charles, Henry and Frisard. He had not met Turner.
Turner had several brushes with the law in Jefferson Parish in the past, according to court records. In 2004 deputies found him hiding under a bathroom sink, near a loaded Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver, in a residence in the 2100 block of Richland Avenue, a few blocks from where he was shot Wednesday.
Turner had previously been convicted of possession of crack cocaine in 2000. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to one count of trying to possess a weapon despite being a convicted felon. He was given a seven-year, six-month sentence.
After picking up another conviction while in jail, Turner was released from prison in December 2014 and went off parole in September 2015, according to a Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections spokesman.
Another tenant said that drug problems at the complex continued despite the security cameras. Airiq Raby, 35, who lived next door to Frisard, said he often smelled marijuana smoke coming from his neighbor’s apartment and noticed a constant stream of visitors there.
“He was a mild-mannered, mild little guy, but very dependent. He had it bad,” Raby said.
Raby said he slept through the commotion that some of his neighbors heard. When he woke up he discovered that the small world of his apartment complex had been transformed.
Raby said he would no longer consider having his children, who live in Ascension Parish, stay at his apartment.
“I wouldn’t bring them here. Not now,” he said.
Can't see video below? Click here.