St. Tammany man suspected of murdering his father - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

St. Tammany man suspected of murdering his father

Billie Rawson Jr. (Photo from STPSO) Billie Rawson Jr. (Photo from STPSO)
Pearl River, La. -

The killing happened around 4:30 Tuesday morning off Highway 41, just north of Pearl River.  Investigators caught up with their suspect in Harrison county, Mississippi.

The St. Tammany Coroner's Office is just out with its autopsy report, and has more on what may have led up to St Tammany's sixth murder of the year.

Residents say they were shocked by the news.

"I found out when the deputies came to the house. They knocked on the door and asked if I heard anything."said neighbor Edwina Dunne.

The St. Tammany Sheriff's Office says it got a call from a relative who reported a father was killed by his own son.  Family members told detectives that the son, 40-year-old Billie Rawson Jr., headed to Mississippi after admitting to them that he had killed his father, 67-year-old Bill Rawson, Sr.

Junior was caught in Harrison County, Mississippi.

"We believe Rawson will waive extradition... he has already admitted his role in the killing," said Sheriff Jack Strain.

The sheriff says there was a history of mental illness: "We do know the younger Rawson was committed a couple of weeks ago for psychiatric evaluation and released from Bogalusa." 

It remains unclear whether Rawson's mental health had anything to do with this murder. But since Southeast Louisiana Hospital shut down, the parish jail has been filled increasingly with people with mental health issues.

Strain fears, with recent cuts, things will get worse.  "All involved in the system predicted these kinds of circumstances would increase," Strain said.

Edwina Dunne says she will miss her neighbor, who never had an unkind word to say to anyone.   Dunne said, "They put them in an asylum, let them out and something like this happens."

The question remains whether anything could have been done to prevent Tuesday morning's murder near Pearl River.

The St Tammany coroner released its autopsy results Tuesday evening. Spokeswoman Melanie Comeaux says the elder Rawson died from severe bleeding, caused by a stab wound to the leg.

Meantime, the younger Rawson is being held at the Harrison County jail, awaiting extradition.  The sheriff says the suspect is not likely to fight the process.

State officials say even though facilities are being shut down, mental health services are still available for anyone who might need them.   They say you should call 1-800-424-4399 if you or a loved one needs assistance.

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