Family of 4 killed in apparent murder-suicide on West Bank of New Orleans
HARVEY, La. (WVUE) - A mother, father, and two sons were killed in what Jefferson Parish officials believe was a murder-suicide in Harvey on Thursday morning (Feb. 9).
Deputies responded to an eerie 911 call from the 1100 block of Curtis Street to find a 20-year-old man, a 13-year-old juvenile male, and an adult male and female dead from apparent gunshot wounds around 7:50 a.m.
“Real unfortunate scene here,” Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said in a press conference around 10:30 a.m.
Lopinto says the adult male, a former law enforcement official who was father to the 13-year-old and step-father to the 20-year-old, called 911 and said something to the effect of “we can’t live like this anymore. You’ll find four bodies when you get here.”
“And that’s what we found, unfortunately,” Lopinto said.
Lopinto said the parents were found in their bedroom but stopped short of disclosing where the sons’ bodies were located when deputies arrived.
Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office identified the victims as Joanna Ragas, 45, Timothy Earl Ragas, 43, Eric Thornblom, 20, and Timothy Bruce Ragas, 13.
Investigators were unable to determine at this time if there were one or two shooters.
“We’ll let ballistics determine that,” Lopinto said. “We’ve got to look at the weapons that were fired and when.”
Lopinto says it looked like the parents may have conspired to commit the heinous act together.
“Some of the information could make me believe they decided to do this together, the parents, but I’m going to let the coroner’s office make that determination. Obviously, we don’t know that right now, but there’s some evidence that leads us to believe that way,” Lopinto said. “We’re still processing that scene. I don’t want to speculate too far because that might not be the case, but let us look into that a bit further.”
Lopinto said there was more than one firearm “accessible.”
Lopinto said he didn’t see a lightbulb on inside the house, which he described as “deplorable,” and clues found at the scene, including some notes, led authorities to believe financial issues may have led to the tragedy.
“It looked like financial problems and stuff have led to a destitute situation and they took it into their own hands, unfortunately,” Lopinto said. “I don’t know if there was power in that house right now.”
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This shooting marks the second murder-suicide in less than 12 hours in Jefferson Parish.
Officials say two brothers were killed in an apparent murder-suicide in Marrero around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night.
Lopinto said one of the brothers apparently killed the other and then took his own life in the 2600 block of Mesa Drive.
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