The dangers lurking in the night were never far from Taylor Friloux’s mind when she closed the Raising Cane’s outlet she managed in Kenner, friends said.
Friloux served on the restaurant chain’s district safety committee. Hours before she died, according to her boyfriend, she asked him to be there when she closed up shop. But just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, he said, Friloux sent him another text telling him not to bother. She would be home soon.
Minutes later, Friloux was fatally stabbed during the course of a bloody armed robbery.
Authorities quickly arrested a former co-worker of Friloux’s and booked him on first-degree murder, but they said two more suspects were still at large.
Friends and family, meanwhile, were left to puzzle over how the one-time colleague accused of killing her, Joshua Every, 23, of LaPlace, could have committed an act so brutal toward a woman who they said always had a smile.
“She had the softest side. She was sweet, and she cared about everybody,” said Friloux’s boyfriend, Mack Keys, 23. “For him to do something that severe, why would you need to go that route?”
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Kenner police said they responded to the report of an armed robbery at 3344 Williams Blvd. about 1:25 a.m.
Detectives believe that as Friloux and another employee walked out the rear of the store to dispose of trash, Every and another man approached her with a knife.
Friloux was stabbed once outside the restaurant, then forced inside to open a safe, Kenner Police Department Chief Michael Glaser said.
Both she and two other employees inside the store were forced to hand over their cellphones to prevent them from calling 911, police said.
Glaser said surveillance video inside the store then captured the moment when Every stabbed Friloux several more times. After that, Glaser said, the robbers ran outside and jumped into a waiting car driven by another person.
Friloux was rushed to the hospital with wounds to her head, neck and chest. She died hours later.
With the help of other restaurant employees, police said, detectives quickly identified Every as the prime suspect in the stabbing. U.S. marshals tracked him to his family’s house in the 100 block of River Oaks Drive in LaPlace.
One neighbor said she noticed law enforcement officers with guns drawn advancing toward Every’s residence through her backyard, which faces a golf course on the quiet suburban street. Officers located Every inside the house and arrested him.
Kenner Police Lt. Brian McGregor said that after refusing to cooperate, Every was booked on first-degree murder, three counts of armed robbery, aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault.
Several knives were seized from the house, but none has been definitely linked to the killing in Kenner, McGregor said.
Police are following “good leads,” meanwhile, in their quest for the second robber and the getaway driver, McGregor said.
But the larger question of what allegedly drove Every to slash Friloux over and over again remained unanswered Wednesday.
“No one’s going to be able to convince me that the motive was just pure robbery when you stab a 21-year-old girl,” Glaser said.
Friloux’s loved ones were left searching for answers and mourning her loss just a few years after she graduated from Archbishop Chapelle High School in Metairie.
Her name regularly appeared on the honor roll at Chapelle. Before that, she was an honors student at St. Christopher School in Metairie, where she also was on an award-winning cheerleading squad.
Friloux spent some time at Southeastern Louisiana University after graduating from high school, one friend said, but her main vocation was managing Raising Cane’s restaurants. She worked at the location in LaPlace, where she grew up, before transferring to the store on Williams Boulevard.
Keys, who also worked at the Kenner location, said the couple met about a year ago at a company picnic in City Park. Their relationship began almost as soon as they strolled through the collection at the New Orleans Museum of Art. And when she got him hooked on the hit video game “Call of Duty,” he said, he realized she was “one in a lifetime.”
“Every morning we woke up with a kiss,” he said.
Friloux’s dream was to own her own bar. To accomplish that goal, Keys said, she was in the process of enrolling in business courses at Delgado Community College.
“She just liked being around people and seeing people have a good time,” he said.
If there was one exception to those warm feelings, Keys said, it may have been Every. When she was a manager at the store and he was her employee, the two never got along. “He didn’t like his job. He was a mediocre worker,” Keys said.
Although rumors circulated among friends Wednesday that Friloux had fired Every, McGregor said that was not the case. It was on another manager’s shift, McGregor said, when Every “took his apron off, walked off and never came back.”
Nevertheless, Keys believes that the bad feelings between the two from their time at Raising Cane’s may have lingered until Wednesday morning. “He just had to feel some type of way toward her,” Keys said.
A relative, neighbors and court records painted a mixed picture of Every on Wednesday.
Confusion and fear could still be read on the face of Every’s aunt, Stephanie Williams, when she opened the door to a reporter hours after his arrest.
Williams said the family did not know why Every had been arrested and professed shock when told about the fatal armed robbery in Kenner.
“He was here last night. We got text messages to prove it,” she said.
Williams also said she believed the vehicle used in the crime was not the one Every drove.
“He’s a sweet child,” Williams said of her nephew. She said he helped around the house by baby-sitting smaller children and fixing computers.
One neighbor, who declined to be named, agreed that Every was a “nice boy” who usually did nothing more notable than mow the lawn.
Yet Wednesday was not the first time Every had been implicated in a crime at a business in Kenner.
Late one night in November 2012, according to a police report, Every was arrested after a resident called 911 to report a commotion at the back of the Game Stop store in the Chateau Village Shopping Center at 819 W. Esplanade Ave.
Responding officers saw four people wearing masks trying to force open the store’s back door with a pry bar and ordered them to stop, police said. The masked burglars discarded a bag with two screwdrivers and a wrench inside and began running away from the store, which was closed at the time.
Officers said they soon captured Every, who was carrying a black bag containing the handle to a hammer as well as a large knife. They then arrested two others on a nearby street, police said.
Wilfredo Salazar, the manager of the video games and electronics store at the time of the incident, said he remembered being told by officers that the first would-be burglar who had been caught “ratted out the others.”
Salazar said he believed the intruders were in search of a video game that had not yet been released to the general public.
Every’s involvement in the case ended in January 2014, when he pleaded guilty as a first offender to one count of attempted unauthorized entry of a business as well as resisting an officer. He received two years of active probation from 24th Judicial District Court Judge Nancy Miller, records show.
In March of this year, after completing the probation, he was given a so-called “automatic first offender pardon,” which gave him back certain rights, such as the right to vote, records show.
Salazar said it startled him to learn that Every was now a suspect in the slaying of a store manager. “I feel bad for that girl,” he said when told of Friloux’s killing. “It’s terrible.”
Neighbors of Friloux’s family’s residence in LaPlace expressed dismay as well.
Craig Gommel, 58, said he drove Friloux to Chapelle High School every morning when she was a freshman there and his daughter was a senior.
He was he was shocked when one of his daughters told him the news of her violent death.
Gommel remembered a “little bitty thing” who was a “super, super sweet little girl” when he drove her to high school.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “Look, if you want to rob, if you know the store, you don’t have to go this far. It’s just not right.”
WWL-TV's Jade Cunningham contributed to this article.