BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge Police Department now believes the deaths of three homeless people in two separate incidents are connected.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul and East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore held a press conference Friday, Dec. 27 to address the recent killings.
Chief Paul says the two incidents happened Friday, Dec. 13 and Friday, Dec. 27. In the first incident, a homeless man and woman were found dead under the North Boulevard bridge. They were identified as Christina Fowler, 53, and Gregory Corcoran, 40.
In the second incident, another homeless man was found shot and killed on the porch of a vacant house on N 18th Street between Convention Street and North Boulevard. The victim in that case has been identified by BRPD as Tony Williams, 50.
The victim in the Dec. 27 incident was a black male, while the victims from the previous shooting were a white male and female. All appeared to be homeless.
Chief Paul says the cases are being aggressively worked by officers and that organizations that work with the homeless community have been notified in order to help protect homeless individuals. He says it’s dangerous for homeless people to sleep outdoors. He also says officers have been contacting members of the homeless community in order to inform them about the recent killings.
While Chief Paul says the department believes the homicides are connected, they cannot be absolutely positive at this time. More information will be released when it’s prudent to do so, he says.
Federal law enforcement partners have been alerted, Paul says. The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and Louisiana State Police are also involved.
When asked if he has a message to the person responsible for the killings, Paul responded, “Turn yourself in.”
Moore also spoke at the press conference, reiterating much of what the chief said. He says many detectives have been working on the cases and that they will continue to investigate aggressively.
“Despite these people being classified as homeless, these are very active, aggressive investigations. These are real people, have real families, real lives, and so the detectives know that and they see that, and they take this work to part,” said Moore.
Meanwhile, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is opening its doors now more than ever.
“Certainly having the police chief say that, Hillar Moore say that, that’s important. It’s important not to sleep outside, it’s not safe today, it’s wasn’t safe yesterday. It’s never safe,” said Michael Acaldo, director of St. Vincent de Paul of Baton Rouge.
Acaldo says normally, the center has 120 beds available for the city’s homeless population to stay the night, but they’re adding additional beds after the chief’s press conference.
“The beds that we can provide to the community are always of urgent nature and certainly now even more so, and so we’re doing the best we can with what we have available in ensuring if somebody comes to us in search of shelter, we’re providing that to them,” said Acaldo.
A meeting between BRPD officers and organizations that assist the homeless population in Baton Rouge has been set for Monday, Dec. 30.
Anyone with information in the cases is asked to call BRPD at 225-389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at 225-344-7867.