WALKER, LA (WAFB) - The family of a woman who suffered a horrible attack on October 23, 2012 is now talking about the tragedy that changed their lives and are asking for the community's help.
Just before Noon on that Tuesday, emergency officials were called to what they say was a gruesome scene on Milton Road in Walker, LA. Investigators say a 28-year-old Paula Reynolds was cut across her throat and her belly with a kitchen knife. Police say the suspect, Jeffery Reynolds, 31, the woman's husband, forcibly removed the unborn child from her womb. She was seven and a half months pregnant.
The small wood-framed house set in a quiet neighborhood off Milton Road was now covered in police cars and crime tape.
According to reports, Reynolds was found kneeling over the victim by emergency officials when they arrived at the home. He was arrested and taken to the Livingston Parish Jail on a $500,000 bond and charged with first degree feticide and second degree attempted murder.
Officials say Reynolds was combative during the arrest. A toxicology test was run on Reynolds, but the results have not been released at this time.
"It was just a surprise. When you don't see anything coming, what do you do," Donnie Agnew said.
Agnew, Paula's father, said his daughter was married to Jeffery for nearly ten years. "No signs of abuse or anything else."
To make matters worse for the family, the Livingston Parish Coroner reported that the unborn baby was accidentally cremated three days after the attack.
The coroner says the Livingston Parish Government does not maintain a morgue and has always relied on a private sector funeral home for morgue services. In a statement released by the coroner, they say a funeral home employee mistakenly removed and cremated the baby before an autopsy could be performed.
The Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office and the Louisiana State Police are investigating the details of the cremation and the local district attorney has been notified.
Livingston Parish District Attorney Scott Perrilloux says the cremation voids the possibility of upgrading the feticide count to one of murder. Previously, Perrilloux said that if evidence showed that the unborn baby had begun to breathe before it was killed, that the feticide count may be upgraded to murder.
However, Perrilloux said he believes the current counts against the suspect in the case can still be prosecuted.
Agnew said his daughter is making progress, but is facing the heartbreaking reality. The surgeries she still has to undergo are critical challenges in her recovery.
"She's got operations to have on her stomach and a lot of psychological help to get her through everything. So there's going to be numerous surgeries and a lot of help with her mentally to get through," said Agnew.
He said he and his wife have not left their daughter's side. He said they will be forever grateful to the men and women who came to his daughter's rescue.
"I would like to thank all the first responders from the Walker Police Department to the State Police, to Acadian Ambulance and medical staff at the hospital because without them she probably wouldn't be here."
As for when Paula might be able to return home, Agnew said it is a daily struggle. "She has a long road ahead of her and at this point I just don't know."
Agnew said his daughter was due on December 5. She was going to name the baby, Isaac.
The Reynolds family has opened an account to help with medical expenses. You can donate at any Capital One Bank under the Paula Reynolds Donation Account.
Officials are still investigating this attack.