NEW ORLEANS — Yolanda Dillion planned everything carefully in her life. At 54 years of age, she lived with and cared for her mother Edna, who is in her 80s and surviving cancer.
Dillion, a breast cancer survivor herself, was a constant whirlwind of activity, participating actively in her church, working by day as a fiscal budget analyst with the NOPD, attending classes to get her PhD in sociology, and driving Uber during her “down” time to make extra money for Christmas gifts for family and children at her church, St. Paul the Apostle in New Orleans East.
As carefully planned as her life was, she died from the random act of a man who apparently woke up Thursday morning with the mission to kill someone. In this case, it would be an Uber driver. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said 29-year-old Brandon Jacobs said he initially planned to call an Uber and kill that driver, but, realizing he would be stuck far from the Travelodge where he was staying in Harvey, he decided instead that he would kill the Uber driver who brought him on the return trip.
Photo: Edna and Yolanda Dillion
That driver was Yolanda Dillion. In the deadly game of chance, Dillion was the victim, and so many are the poorer because of it.
NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said that Dillion had worked for the department for ten years and, though quiet by nature, was a force for good. He said those she worked with were shaken by the news.
"Our team is taking it pretty hard," he said. "The team dearly loved her. She will be dearly missed. She was quiet. She was humble. She was a quiet giant."
New Orleans native Wendell Pierce, a renowned actor currently starring in a Broadway play, who keeps close tabs on his hometown, tweeted his anger at the loss of Ms. Dillion, a woman who attended the same church as Pierce.
“Remember her: Yolonda Dillon. My church member for decades, a woman with a heart of gold & a deep love of God was murdered yesterday,” he Tweeted. “Yolanda Dillion was her name. Say her name.”
No one will miss Dillion more than her mother Edna, who was cared for lovingly by Yolanda and who fought through tears to talk about her daughter.
“My only child,” she said. I ain’t have no other. When your child leaves in the morning, you expect to see them come back. You can’t just take somebody’s life, somebody who not doing you nothing.”
Her mother said she had no idea that Yolanda was picking up fares, but Yolanda was obviously doing everything she could to take care of everyone she could help – children at the church, the police department and, most of all, her mother.
“She took very good care. She made my groceries and cooked and bought everything. She paid all my bills and everything. He just left me with nobody,” said Edna.
Dillion’s church community is grieving, saying she was a valued and involved member of St. Paul’s. Pastor of St. Paul's, Father Charles Ndumbi, said Dillion was a parish council member, an elector, and more.
“Yolanda to other people was a very caring person. You never know whether she’s suffering or not, but she was always there asking others how they are doing how they felt,” Ndubmi said. “She was selfless, and many children really loved her whenever she was there you’d see children coming to her that was Yolanda.”
Ndumbi said he’s heartbroken at the senseless act of violence, calling the news of her death “painful.” He says the loss is horrible and especially shocking, considering how selfless Dillion was. Ndumbi says the church will do what they can to help Dillion’s mother Enda grieve, sharing how much of a pillar she was for her mother.
“We never know when it will be the time for anyone to go, but going just in this manner, sometimes we ask God why. Only God knows why it happens,” Ndumbi said.
Jacobs is in jail and facing second-degree murder counts. He apparently shot video of Dillion dying in her car and posted it to social media. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said a call to Facebook had it quickly removed.
Lopinto said that although he couldn't be positive that no one on the Internet had saved it before it was deleted, "fortunately, he didn't have many friends (on Facebook)."
Dillion, though, had made an impact and was making an impact, and now so many places have a major void that will never be filled.