Update, 12:10 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016: The New Orleans man suspected of murdering his pregnant girlfriend and her parents and setting fire to their Old Jefferson home Monday served with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan for more than a year, military officials confirmed Thursday.

Jatory Evans, 28, was a sergeant in his second stint with the Louisiana Army National Guard before he was arrested Tuesday in the slayings of Sydney Hanson, 20; Samantha Hanson, 45; and Dwayne Hanson, who would've turned 47 on Wednesday. 

Evans enlisted in the National Guard in August 2010. A wheeled vehicle mechanic, he then deployed to Afghanistan with the Army from September 2011 to October 2012 with the 1086th Transportation Company.

There was then a break in his service before he rejoined the Louisiana Army National Guard in November 2013, a document provided by military officials showed. He was then a supply specialist and ambulance aide/driver for the Washington Artillery, based out of Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, as well as a mechanic for the 199th Brigade Support Battalion, drilling once a month.

Evans earned a number of military decorations during that time, including Global War on Terrorism and North Atlantic Treaty Organization medals.

Evans' military career came after authorities in Hammond accused him in 2009 of trying to burn a woman with a lighter while threatening to kill himself. He later pleaded no contest in the case and served probation.

Since then, Evans has participated in amateur mixed martial arts fights and has worked for a truck rental company in Harahan. He sought a job with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office before he was rejected over what authorities have only described as a prior "domestic incident." 

He has also had run-ins with numerous other law enforcement agencies. On Thursday, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office Capt. Daniel Seuzeneau confirmed a former girlfriend of Evans contacted the Sheriff's Office four times in 2009 for threatening text messages and other incidents involving Evans. 

In 2015, that same woman told New Orleans police that Evans had made obscene phone calls to her, Seuzeneau said. And, in March, Evans was booked in Livingston Parish on a count of domestic violence battery. 

The accusations Evans now faces from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office are much more gruesome. He is accused of stabbing and setting fire to the expectant Sydney Hanson in her upstairs bedroom about noon Monday, shortly after she had accused him of being abusive and had taken out a restraining order against him.

He is also accused of stabbing and shooting Samantha Hanson and gunning down Dwayne Hanson before the Hansons' home in the 4100 block of River Road burned down.

Wearing a gray Army physical training T-shirt, black athletic pants and desert combat boots, Evans made his first appearance in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna on Thursday. The Public Defender's Office was assigned to represent Evans, who indicated he did not want to be questioned by authorities without his attorney present.

Evans remains jailed without bail in Gretna on three counts of first-degree murder. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office said it also planned to book Evans with feticide.

He has denied any involvement in the Hansons' killings and provided an alibi to investigators, the Sheriff's Office said. The Sheriff's Office has not released details about the alibi, other than to say investigators were looking into it. 

In Louisiana, first-degree murder is punishable by either life imprisonment or death. 

The Hansons are survived by Sydney's twin sister, Cassidy. A family friend has set up a charity fund at gofundme.com to help support Cassidy and cover the Hansons' funeral expenses. 

Original story

The man accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend and her parents and setting fire to their Old Jefferson home Monday tried to burn another woman seven years ago while threatening to kill himself, court records show.

Jatory Evans, 28, was also drawn to jobs that involved guns or fighting. He enlisted in the Army National Guard, tried to get a job at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, and participated in mixed martial arts, according to friends and authorities.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said Wednesday that his office rejected a job application from Evans some two years ago because of a "prior domestic situation," but he did not elaborate.

Evans was charged in April 2009 after Tangipahoa Parish deputies responded to reports that he was threatening to kill himself during an argument with two women who were taking him home from a hospital in Hammond. According to a police report, during the disturbance, Evans grabbed one of the women and "started to strike a (lighter) ... in an attempt to burn her."

The woman did not appear to be burned, but Evans then grabbed her cellphone and threw it to the ground, breaking it. Evans and the second woman shoved one another before a deputy cited him for misdemeanor criminal damage.

Evans pleaded no contest a few months later and was sentenced to one year of probation.

On Monday, Evans was arrested in a much more gruesome incident. He is accused of stabbing and setting fire to his 20-year-old expectant girlfriend, Sydney Hanson, in her upstairs bedroom, days after she had accused him of being abusive and had taken out a restraining order against him.

Evans also is accused of stabbing and shooting Sydney's mother, 45-year-old Samantha Hanson, and gunning down her father, Dwayne Hanson, 46, before setting fire to the Hansons' home in the 4100 block of River Road.

Evans has said on Twitter that he was in the Army National Guard, and he even posted a picture of himself in uniform on his social media profile. Army officials did not respond to requests for comment on his status Wednesday, but a friend, Rich Clementi, said he believed Evans volunteered for active duty when given the opportunity.

Evans also tried his hand as an amateur mixed martial arts fighter, occasionally working out at a gym in Slidell owned by Clementi.

He would have liked to earn a living in MMA, but he never managed to do more than dabble in the sport, intermittently fighting while drifting in and out of local gyms, said Clementi, who fought professionally in the Ultimate Fighting Championship promotion.

"I think maybe he would feel he doesn't fit in a place, and so he would bounce around," Clementi said. "A lot of people do this to try to show who they want to be, but at the end of the day ... it exposes if you're not that guy."

Clementi said Evans recently told him that he and his girlfriend were going to have a child, and he was excited at the prospect of being a father.

"He seemed ... proud that he was expecting," Clementi said.

Clementi said he learned Evans was a suspect before he was arrested Tuesday, and he texted Evans in an effort to gauge whether he might try to hurt himself or someone else. 

"Hey, man — we haven't talked in a while, and I just want you to know I am always here for you," Clementi said he told Evans.

Evans' response was, "I can't tell you how much I appreciate that," Clementi said.  

Normand on Tuesday said investigators were still probing an alibi provided by Evans, who lived in New Orleans East and worked for a truck rental company. He is being held in the Jefferson Parish jail without bail. 

Investigators recovered a knife outside the Hansons' home, but it is unclear whether the knife was used in the murders, and authorities did not find a gun on the scene, Normand said.

Friends of Dwayne and Samantha Hanson, who biked with them in the NOLA Social Ride club, were struggling to grasp the killings. 

One person commenting on the group's Facebook page said Samantha Hanson was worried about her daughter's relationship issues, but she said the adversity had strengthened the family's bond. 

Another commenter said the Hansons' other daughter, Cassidy, was staying with an aunt and handling her family's tragedy as well as could be expected.

"She'll have ever a tough road," the commenter said. "But she's strong." 

Staff writer Jim Mustian contributed to this report. 

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