2 indicted in St. Rose murder

April 08, 2011 at 9:23 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Two Hahnville residents have been indicted on a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the arson death of an 88-year-old St. Rose woman.

Toby Beasley, 31, and Janna Firmin, 34, are scheduled to be arraigned on April 11.

Authorities say that Beasley kicked in the door of a home in the 600 block of Mockingbird Lane at 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 11 and argued with a 16-year-old and 20-year-old who both lived at the residence. The argument escalated and Beasley poured an accelerant on the floor of the living room and then lit it, according to the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.

While the two young residents were able to escape, their 88-year-old grandmother, identified as Ophelia Shepard, was trapped in the house and killed. Shepard had both of her legs amputated due to severe diabetes. She also suffered from arthritis, according to her family.

Shepard was the aunt of long-serving St. Charles School Board member John Smith.

“My aunt was a wonderful person. She grew up and spent her life as a Christian woman,” Smith said.

He said that Shepard had been disabled for about 20 years.

“She was bedridden for some time, but through all of that she remained a very faithful person who was always smiling and laughing. She was loved by her family and the community,” Smith said.

Police were able to track down Beasley after a witness saw him get into a grey Chevrolet Impala with Louisiana license plate TGZ045 after the arson. The vehicle was spotted the next day on I-310 and both Beasley and Firmin, who authorities believe served as the getaway driver, were arrested.

Beasley’s bond has been set at $1 million while Firmin’s bond is $750,000.

Beasley and Firmin have also been booked with aggravated arson. Additionally, Beasley faces two counts of attempted homicide and simple arson while Firmin has been charged with two counts of principal to attempted homicide.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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