FOX 8 Defenders: Sister of homicide victim files wrongful death lawsuit against The Willows
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The sister of a woman tragically shot and killed at The Willows apartments in New Orleans East, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the property owner.
The complex has been the subject of a series of FOX 8 Defenders reports as tenants complained about a lack of security and deplorable living conditions.
Kimberly Delay’s sister, Gladys Dedrick, became emotional while discussing her late sibling. Through tears, Dedrick says Kimberly sought her help to leave The Willows over safety concerns. Dedrick regretfully admitted not taking the request seriously at the time.
“She said, I need you to help me get out of The Willows - do this, do that - and I just didn’t take it seriously,” Dedrick said.
Dedrick says she saw incidents of violence at the New Orleans East apartment complex over the years but nothing prepared her for the shooting death of her sister last December.
“She was murdered inside her apartment... inside The Willows,” Dedrick said.
After her sister’s death, Dedrick attempted to retrieve Kimberly’s belongings from her apartment, but property manager Candren Lemieux denied her access.
“He refused to let me in the apartment to get those, all that valuable stuff, you know, sentimental things,” Dedrick explained.
A few days later, Dedrick says someone broke into the apartment and stole her sister’s possessions and family heirlooms.
“It was like a gold picture frame with a picture of our mother that my aunt gave to my sister years ago,” Dedrick says. “I could never ever in a million years get those things back.”
Dedrick’s wrongful death lawsuit targets The Willows, the property manager, and the owner, a religious non-profit based in Tennessee. The lawsuit alleges that the lack of security on the premises contributed to Delay’s death.
FOX 8 DEFENDERS
Megan Kiefer, Dedrick’s attorney, says that the condition of the premises, which has received extensive documentation and reporting as unsafe, is one of the core allegations in the lawsuit.
Numerous tenants interviewed over the past year and a half have repeatedly requested improved security at the site. The lawsuit accuses the owner of failing to restrict access to the property, failing to provide police presence or security guards, and failing to provide adequate lighting.
“They’re aware that this is a dangerous property,” Kiefer said.
For Dedrick, she knows her older sister is never coming back. But she says she’s holding out hope for one thing.
“Justice, justice,” Dedrick said.
Dedrick is seeking unspecified damages for her pain and suffering, in the lawsuit.
The CEO of the religious non-profit, Richard Hamlet, previously stated that he pays for security at the site. On Friday (Oct. 27), the security gates at the front of the complex were functioning. Attempts to obtain comments from Hamlet and Lemiuex regarding the lawsuit have gone unanswered.
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