Man Accused of Killing Pregnant Ex-Girlfriend and Her Parents Commits Suicide
Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
A New Orleans man accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, their unborn child and the woman’s parents before setting the family’s home on fire last fall was found dead in his jail cell Wednesday of an apparent suicide.
Jatory Evans, 29, was found hanged in his cell at the Jefferson Parish Jail around 4:25 p.m., the New Orleans Advocate reported. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Evans was indicted last month on three counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree feticide in the mass killing, which occurred Nov. 7 at the Old Jefferson home of Dwayne and Samantha Hanson. Evans and the couple’s daughter, Sydney Hanson, had dated, but had broken up.
Sydney Hanson, 20, was seven months pregnant at the time of her death, the Advocate reported. Sydney, who is survived by a twin sister, was supposed to attend a baby shower in her honor the day she was slain.
Dwayne Hanson’s sister, Dawn Hanson, released a statement following Evans’ death, in which she said the family “look(ed) forward to healing as a family and never having to stare evil in the face again.”
“For the past 324 days, our family has mourned the loss of our three loved ones that none of us could ever imagine our lives without, and a baby girl that we could not wait to meet,” Dawn Hanson wrote on her Facebook page. “Barely a moment has gone by without tears shed for those we will never again get to talk to, laugh with or be able to hug again. We will continue to try to live our lives to the fullest, as Dwayne, Samantha and Sydney did, and always encouraged others to do the same.”
Then-Jefferson County Sheriff Newell Normand said in a news conference the day after the slayings that Sydney Hanson was stabbed multiple times in a bedroom of the home, WWL-TV in New Orleans reported. Her killer used books and an accelerant to start a fire on or near her body while she was still alive.
Her badly burned remains were not found until after firefighters had extinguished the blaze, NOLA.com reported.
Dwayne Hanson, 46, was found in the kitchen, shot twice in the head, Normand said.
First responders found Samantha Hanson, 45, lying in the front yard, WWL-TV reported. She had been shot five times and was stabbed more than 20 times.
She and her husband, who worked together at a machine shop, had gone home on their lunch break.
Witnesses in the family’s neighborhood heard gunshots shortly after noon and, a few minutes later, saw smoke pouring from the home. The Advocate reported that one witness saw a man fleeing the scene in a blue car.
Detectives later learned that Evans, a Louisiana National Guard veteran of Afghanistan who unsuccessfully applied for a job with the Sheriff’s Office in 2014, had rented a blue Hyundai Elantra in Baton Rouge, the newspaper said. License plate recognition cameras captured images of the car entering Jefferson Parish the morning of the murders.
When the rental car was searched, blood matching both Sydney and Samantha Hanson was found, investigators said.
Evans also had wounds on his hands when he was interviewed by detectives, the Advocate reported. He claimed he hurt himself at work, but had no answer for how he was injured, nor had he notified his supervisors of the injuries.
Evans denied involvement in the homicides, citing his uncle as an alibi witness. NOLA.com reported that the uncle, Jared Parker, 27, of Baton Rouge, was later charged with being an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.
Detectives said Parker lied to help his nephew avoid charges.
Some of Sydney Hanson’s friends told investigators that Evans abused her during their relationship, and that he had been jealous and controlling even after the relationship ended, the Advocate reported. Normand told the media that Evans was the subject of a restraining order following an incident at the Hanson home in late October.
Relatives told NOLA.com that Evans stalked Sydney Hanson at her job at the Audubon Zoo, threatened to get her fired and slashed the tires of her parents’ vehicle. He also had a history of similar behavior with a previous girlfriend.
Evans, who was arrested at his home the morning after the slayings, was being held without bond on the murder charges. His bond on the feticide charge was set at $500,000.
Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich told NOLA.com on Wednesday that the official determination of Evans’ cause of death would be made after his autopsy was completed.
Members of Evans’ family also expressed their grief on Facebook, posting photos of him in his National Guard uniform, as well as photos from his time as a mixed martial arts competitor. Videos of some of his fights can be found on YouTube, including the one posted below.
“My heart is aching and I can’t stop crying,” Evans’ aunt wrote. “Praying for my sister. May God comfort her right now. I love you and will miss you, especially when you use to aggravate me on purpose.”