JP Sheriff describes horrific scene in River Road family killings

Jatory Evans (Photo: Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office)
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GRETNA – A 20-year-old pregnant woman waiting to celebrate her baby shower with co-workers was instead attacked, stabbed and set on fire and her parents were also killed in a macabre scene detailed by Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand at a Tuesday press conference.

A suspect, 28-year-old Jatory Evans, was arrested at his New Orleans home overnight. He had been under a restraining order keeping him away from Sydney Hanson following an incident at the Hanson home in late October, prior to Monday’s incident. Evans was booked on three counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree feticide.

Normand said that Sydney Hanson had been stabbed several times inside of the duplex home on River Road and then set on fire. Normand said that books and accelerant had been found at the scene where her body was discovered. He had said on Monday that the person who committed the crime may have set the fire to cover up the killing.

Downstairs at the home, and outside, the bodies of Sydney Hanson’s parents, 49-year-old Dwayne Hanson and 45-year-old Samantha Hanson were found. Normand said that Dwayne Hanson was shot twice and that Samantha Hanson was shot five times and had been stabbed between 20 and 25 times.

Normand said that Sydney Hanson was seven months pregnant and that Evans is believed to be the father of the child.

Normand said that Evans was arrested at his New Orleans home overnight and that he has denied involvement in the incident. Normand said that an alibi and statements by Evans were being checked out.

According to Normand, the elder Hanson’s were at work Monday and had left the job to eat and then travel to their home. Witnesses reported hearing several gunshots and a short time later smelled smoke and the building was on fire.

Dwayne Hanson, 46, and Samantha Hanson, 45, worked at Laitram Machine Shop in Harahan, the company told The New Orleans Advocate on Tuesday.

Dwayne Hanson worked at Laitram for six years, and Samantha Hanson was an employee of the company for four years, said Franck Labiche, Laitram's human resources director.

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"They were both wonderful people, great employees, and very well-liked by our machine shop group," Labiche said. "They will definitely be dearly missed after their departure."

The fire was reported about 2:30 p.m. Monday in the 4100 block of River Road.

Firefighters who arrived on the scene found one victim dead in the front yard and the other two inside the home.

One first responder told deputies he thought he saw someone else in the home, leading to a more cautious approach to the home until authorities could determine there was no one else inside the home who might harm first responders.

While the victims were apparently killed by gunshots, Normand said Monday that it "would be conjecture" to say if the fire was set as a way to cover up a crime.

New Orleans Advocate staff writer Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this report.