Bond hearing delayed for New Orleans mother accused of stabbing her children; family calls situation ‘unspeakable tragedy’

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 4:40 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Jenee Pedesclaux, the New Orleans mother accused of taking a knife to the throats of her two children last weekend, made her first court appearance Tuesday (Aug. 9) but must wait to learn if she will have a bail amount set by a judge.

Meanwhile, new details of her alleged Sunday morning attack on her children emerged in court documents, and the woman’s family issued a statement asking the city for prayers and calling the situation “an unspeakable tragedy.”

Pedesclaux, 31, appeared briefly Tuesday afternoon before Orleans Parish Magistrate Commissioner Dennis Moore. But Moore invoked “Gwen’s Law,” which took effect in Louisiana in 2017 and prevents people accused of domestic violence from having bail set until arguments can be heard in a contradictory hearing. That hearing was set for Thursday at 10 a.m. before Magistrate Judge Juana Lombard.

An arrest warrant affidavit filed in her criminal case revealed chilling new details gleaned by New Orleans police in their investigation of what happened in Pedesclaux’s house in the 3100 block of LAw Street.

Detectives wrote that they learned from the father of Pedesclaux’s children that the distraught woman started Sunday by calling him to say she had damaged his vehicle. Jermaine Roberts, who was locked in a custody battle with Pedesclaux, said the woman told him in that phone call that she was “not going to jail and would kill herself and the kids.”

The father told police he next received a video call from Pedesclaux over the Facetime app, in which the woman pointed the camera to show a knife wound to their 2-year-old son’s neck. A second video call was received, he said, in which Pedesclaux turned the camera to show another neck wound on their daughter. The young girl, identified by the parish coroner as 3-year-old Paris Roberts, later died from her wound.

After receiving a third video call showing both children bleeding from their necks, their father rushed to their house. He told police Pedesclaux refused to let him through a barred and locked front door, so he broke and climbed through a front window to get to the wounded children. He told police he disarmed Pedesclaux of a knife, but that she bit him and then ran to the kitchen to get another knife. He said he scooped up both children and escaped the house while their mother held a knife to her own neck.

Surveillance video obtained by Fox 8 showed the father rushing back to his truck, carrying the boy in his arms while his daughter runs behind, stumbling and falling to the sidewalk, before getting back up. Police said Jermaine Roberts rushed the children to the emergency room of University Medical Center, where they were taken for immediate surgery.

The attack was reported at 11:17 a.m. According to the arrest report, Paris Roberts died at the hospital at 1:40 p.m., from what the coroner’s office determined as “multiple sharp trauma injuries” to her neck. Her 2-year-old brother, the report said, remains stable but in critical condition with knife injuries to his neck and trachea. The boy is intubated to assist with his breathing and remains sedated pending an additional planned surgery, the report said.

The affidavit also said, “It was later learned that Pedesclaux harmed herself after the children were transported to the hospital. She was transported via EMS to University Hospital for medical treatment. No life-threatening injuries had occurred and (her) injuries appeared to be superficial to the right upper portion of (her) collarbone area.”

Pedesclaux was booked with second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile. If charged and convicted on the murder count, she would face a mandatory lifetime prison term.

Court records show Pedesclaux twice was arrested on allegations of aggravated assault in 2011 and pleaded guilty to jumping bail that same year. However, her six-month jail sentence for those offenses was suspended and she complied with terms of a one-year probation.

Pedesclaux’s family issued a statement Tuesday that said: “On Sunday morning, the Pedesclaux family endured an unspeakable tragedy. Mental health is a crisis that is affecting every family and ours is no different. The lack of mental health services and the toxic mix of social media has added to the problems we face as a community.

“This is a large family of faith and we ask with all humility that the city pray for our family.”

Dr. Patrick Bordnick, dean of Tulane University’s School of Social Work, said Louisiana’s mental health support system has been considered broken for years, and its inadequacies have only been exacerbated since the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re losing clinicians and we are gaining more people that need services,” Bordnick said. “So, it’s that perfect storm. We really have to start thinking as a profession -- not just in Louisiana but across the country -- at the federal levels and the local levels.”

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