Young victim of gruesome murder had a smile that could 'melt your heart'


Posted on August 15, 2011 at 10:39 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 26 at 5:22 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News

THIBODAUX, La. -- A 30-year-old Thibodaux man is behind bars in connection with his son's gruesome death. A passerby discovered the decapitated body of 7-year-old Jori Lirette outside his family's home.

A day later, many in the community are asking why.

"He was a very important person in my life, maybe the bestest thing that ever happened to me," said a tearful Jesslyn Lirette talking about her son, during a press conference Monday afternoon at the Thibodaux Police Department.

Lirette's pride and joy was her little boy who was confined to a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy. Despite the health challenges, he never let that get him down.

"I loved his company. His smile would melt your heart. He had these little bitty red cheeks," family friend Samantha Scioneaux.

On Sunday, Jori's life came to an abrupt end. Thibodaux police say the boy's father, 30-year-old Jeremiah Wright, decapitated and then dismembered the boy's body over the family's kitchen sink.

Police say a passerby spotted the child's head outside on the sidewalk. When investigators arrived, police say they found the boy's dismembered body in a garbage bag.

"They always had a rocky relationship, and I'd tell her Jesslyn, you have to [leave him] before he kills you or he kills that little boy," said Scioneaux.

A day after the horrific attack, Scioneaux and her 6-year-old daughter stopped by the victim's home to pay their respects to a family she knows well. Scioneaux said she'd hear stories from her high school friend about Wright's strange behavior.

"'The voices are telling him to kill me and Jori.' I said get him help and then a couple of days later, he'd tell her I was just messing with you and give this evil little laugh," said Scioneaux.

But the alleged threats became reality. Investigators say Wright was waiting on the front porch when police arrived, allegedly confessing to the gruesome murder.

Mourner after mourner showing up to Jori's house on Monday afternoon to add teddy bears, balloons, notes and flowers to a growing collection.

"It's very heart breaking for someone to sit there and kill a little boy," said Vanessa Pitre, who heard about the murder and decided to drop off a stuffed bumblebee at the memorial site.

The unthinkable act continues to shock many especially parents in community.

"I don't know how anybody could do that. It's horrible. The child is innocent," said Germaine Watkins, who has a son the same age also attending Jori's school.

Innocence taken away too soon, leaving a grief-stricken mother asking why me.

"I love you very much Jori," Lirette said. "I wish you could be here today, but you're not."