A Louisiana man is accused of decapitating and dismembering his disabled 7-year-old son and leaving the boy's head near the street so the child's mother would see it - a killing that brought seasoned police officers to tears, authorities said Monday.
Jeremiah Lee Wright, 30, of Thibodaux has confessed to killing Jori Lirette, Police Chief Scott Silverii said. He said Wright was booked with first-degree murder and was held Monday in lieu of $5 million bond.
Silverii's spokesman, Detective Ricky Ross, said he does not believe Wright has an attorney.
Silverii said the motive was unclear, though Wright told police "that he'd gotten to the point where he was tired of taking care" of the boy, who had cerebral palsy and heart problems, needed a feeding tube and was in a wheelchair.
"He said when he put his head out by the side of the road it was so the mother would see it when she came by," Silverii said. He said Wright's only explanation for doing so was "just that he wanted her to feel stupid when she saw the head."
The police chief said Jori's feet and one hand also were cut off, recovered with the body in several white plastic garbage bags.
The slaying was the first in Thibodeaux since 2008.
Silverii said the boy apparently was decapitated over the kitchen sink, which was sent to the Louisiana State Police crime lab along with a box of tools found nearby. An autopsy taking place Monday in Jefferson Parish would identify when the child died and what was used to decapitate and dismember the boy, Silverii said.
Police had been called to the house last month when the couple had an argument - possibly about money - though neither person brought charges, Ross said. The police chief said Wright had been arrested a few times previously, though he was never charged with violent crimes. Wright served 10 days for theft in 2005.
Lirette, 27, told The Daily Comet of Thibodaux (http://bit.ly/pqtIKx ) that she and Wright had been together for 10 years, but that she had planned for some time to leave him.
"I didn't get out fast enough," she said.
The newspaper reached Lirette and other mourners Sunday night at the home of her mother, Delene Himel, who does not have a listed phone number.
Mark Chatagnier, a friend of Wright's, told the newspaper that Wright was unemployed and that Lirette often left him to care for Jori, even when she was not working.
"She would take off and totally expect Jerry to do everything," Chatagnier said.
Lirette denied that. She said she cared for another disabled person to pay household bills and was still around to care for her son, who had been born three months premature, could say only a few words and weighed no more than 50 pounds when he died.
Despite his challenges, she said she never felt her son was disabled.
"I never struggled with my son," Lirette said. "He was happy. Everything I could do, I did."
She said she took her pickup for repairs Sunday morning so she could take Jori to an ear doctor Tuesday in New Orleans, about a 75-minute drive east.
She returned to a home blocked with police tape.
When she identified herself, Silverii had Ross, who had been her minister for 12 years and remains a lay pastor, and a captain tell her what happened to her son.
"These are experienced men. They came out of there in tears. Just absolutely in tears," Silverii said.
Grief counselors from the Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office also spent time with her, he said.
South Thibodaux Elementary School, where Jori was a second-grader, was "a very somber place" Monday, said Floyd Benoit, spokesman for the Lafourche Parish school system.
He said about six social workers, psychiatrists and psychologists were at the school to talk to anyone who needed them, and a few were at other schools where teachers or students knew Jori.
The school has 560 students, including 84 second-graders and 18 in special education across all grades, he said.
"It's the staff that's having a harder time today, because they understand more of what's happening," Benoit said.