Erik Beasley mug

Erik Beasley, via OPSO

After his discharge from a hospital Tuesday, a 39-year-old man was arrested on allegations that he set his mother on fire and killed her at their home in New Orleans East last week, authorities said.

Erik Beasley now faces one count each of second-degree murder and aggravated arson in the slaying of Sarah Beasley, 78.

Although police said they took Beasley into custody as he was released from a medical facility, they couldn’t say why or for how long he had been undergoing treatment. Beasley has a documented history of mental illness.  

The arrest came four days after firefighters were sent to the Beasleys’ home in the 4700 block of Corinne Street. No fire was burning when firefighters arrived, but the house was filled with light smoke, and the body of the woman presumed to be Sarah Beasley was lying dead next to a damaged chaise.

Ninety percent of her body was burned, officials said.

Though relatives told the State Fire Marshal’s Office that the dead woman was Erik Beasley’s mother, the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office has not confirmed that.

Police haven’t discussed a potential motive for the killing or explained why they suspect Erik Beasley was responsible.

They publicly released his name as the prime suspect in the case on Monday. A mugshot taken Tuesday afternoon depicted him still wearing a hospital gown.

Beasley has been booked on various criminal violations on at least nine other occasions in the last decade, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court records show.

A court entry from February noted that Beasley, then facing charges of criminal damage to property and battery of a correctional officer, was receiving mental health treatment at the state's psychiatric hospital in East Feliciana Parish. He was later deemed competent to proceed toward trial, but he avoided that in the end by pleading guilty in April in exchange for a three-month sentence.

Court records indicated Beasley at the time was on probation in connection with a 2015 case involving charges of battery and unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling. A court entry in that case indicated he was living with his parents and taking medication as of May.

Beasley's bail on the murder count hadn't been set as of Tuesday afternoon.  


Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.