New suspect sketch in shooting of Gentilly mother and children

Updated: Feb. 17, 2020 at 8:30 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - CrimeTracker Cold Case : New suspect sketch in killings of Gentilly mother and her children.

Those who knew 30-year-old Monique Smith describe her as a sweet, hard-working single mother. Her children were her pride and joy: 12-year-old A’Miya and her sons 10-year-old Justin and 6-year-old Jumyrin.

Deborah Smith, mother of Monique, says when Monique wasn’t at her job at Ted’s Frostop Diner, you’d find her with her kids.

“She always had weekend times with them; take them out to the zoo, to parties right on the lake, doing a little picnic like that,” Deborah said.

This was every weekend she was always finding something to do with her children, Deborah said.

Cold Case Monique Smith and children murders
Cold Case Monique Smith and children murders(WVUE)
Cold Case Monique Smith and children murders
Cold Case Monique Smith and children murders

Smith also says Monique was a loving daughter.

She recalls a letter Monique left for her after spending a couple of nights together.

“She said mom I miss being with you. She says its so beautiful the way you treat me,” Deborah said as she struggled to finish telling the story about the letter. “She says I miss being with you so much. She said I really enjoy myself just for these two nights. I just miss the way you treat me."

In 2017, both her and her daughter had a lot to look forward to on Friday, March 17. That morning, Monique wanted to look for a new car and help her mom move in with her. Instead, Deborah received a devastating call to turn on the T.V news.

“And he said I think that might have been Monique; everything in my body just dropped. Just as he told me that, I press the button and turn on the T.V and my child’s house was sitting right in front of me on the TV; police at the door, all the people around and I lost it,” Deborah said, as she recalled the moment she received the news that her daughter and her grandchildren were shot inside their home.

Word spread quickly about the horrific crimes on Touro Street in the Gentilly neighborhood. Someone shot Monique and her three children. Monique and her two sons died after they were shot several times and the only survivor was her daughter A’Miya. She was shot once in the face.

A’Miya clung to life after emergency surgery. Meantime at a hospital, police provided tight security with the killer still on the loose.

Years after the killings in the usually quiet neighborhood, the house where the murders happened is no longer there and all that remains is a vacant lot. The rental home was demolished and, as for how the killer got into the house, police believe he forced his way through a back door. Once inside investigators believe he shot Monique first multiple times near her bedroom. Then they believe he went upstairs, shot her three children and then fled the home.

"Didn’t appear to be a rampage. I wouldn’t say random. It look like it was targeted. The person went there to do what they did and leave,” Joseph Jefferson, the NOPD Cold Case Detective assigned to the unsolved murders, said.

Detective Jefferson calls the murders a hit. He says the fact that nothing was taken from the home reinforces his theory.

Now for the first time, police released the sketch of the man they say could be involved. Police believe he’s familiar with Monique’s house and her family.

Gentilly Monique Smith and kids murders
Gentilly Monique Smith and kids murders(WVUE)

“One of the theories, kind of hanging to, the kids were shot because they were familiar with the person or possibly saw the person around before. Cause once you shoot the mother there is no discernible reason for you to go upstairs,” Jefferson said.

The NOPD Detective believes the killer struck sometime between late Thursday night and early Friday morning. At the scene, Detective Jefferson says they found DNA evidence that they’re still analyzing.

He says they also found other evidence, but would not elaborate no those details. When asked about other potential suspects linked to the case Jefferson responded, “everybody is a suspect until nobody is a suspect."

Monique and her husband were estranged at the time of the murders. In an interview with Fox 8 News in 2017, Justin Simms told us he was in Jackson, Mississippi, when he received the shocking news. Back then he told us how his daughter was traumatized over the attack she survived.

“She (A’Miya) woke up crying asking if this man gonna come back Daddy. And I ask what man? She said the man that did this to me,” Simms said in 2017 .

In their search for answers, Detective Jefferson says they also investigated if Monique was dating anyone at the time of the killings. The NOPD Detective says she wasn’t and that brings us back to the newly released sketch.

“Somebody out there knows something even if they think they don’t know something. They probably know something that will fit in this puzzle that we are building with this case,” Jefferson said.

Gentilly Monique Smith and kids murders
Gentilly Monique Smith and kids murders(WVUE)

For now, Deborah Smith has two reasons for living: one caring for her surviving granddaughter A’Miya. The other priority for her is keeping alive the fight to find the killer of her daughter and two grandsons.

Cold Case Monique Smith and children murders
Cold Case Monique Smith and children murders

“It’s never-ending tears and never-ending pain in my heart that he took away from me. My heart, he took away part of my life. You know it’s only God that still has me standing with my head up high; and because I trust and believe in him, he’s gonna be found,” Deborah said.

Gentilly Monique Smith and kids murders
Gentilly Monique Smith and kids murders(WVUE)

She just hopes that she'll be alive when the killer is brought to justice.

If you have any information on this case you are urged to call the Metro New Orleans Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111

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