Arrest made in Monday LaPlace murder

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 30, 2011



LAPLACE – Authorities in St. John the Baptist Parish have arrested a Gretna man in connection with a double shooting at a LaPlace trailer home early Monday morning that killed a 49-year-old man and wounded a 50-year-old woman, according to Sheriff Wayne L. Jones.

Rodney Washington, 37, was charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of John Wactor, who was found shot and killed inside a home at 311 Fir Street Monday, Jones announced at a press conference Tuesday. Washington was also charged with attempted first-degree murder for wounding 50-year-old Carolyn Coleman, who was also at the home. Wactor’s death is the first homicide of the year in St. John Parish.

Jones said Washington turned himself in to authorities around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday after St. John Parish and Jefferson Parish detectives spent time Monday looking for him at his home and work. Jones said St. John detectives reached Washington by phone Monday night, and he agreed to turn himself in. He is being held without bond at the Sherman Walker Correctional Facility in LaPlace.

Deputies were called out to the Fir Street home just before 2:30 a.m. Monday after several neighbors reported shots fired.

When they arrived they found Coleman in the back yard with gunshot wounds to the right thigh and left shoulder. She told deputies that Wactor was still inside the trailer home with gunshot wounds.

Once inside, deputies found Wactor on the floor of the home with a gunshot wound to the cheek. St. John Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Dane Clement said Wactor was pronounced dead inside the home by medical examiners at the scene.

Clement said an autopsy was scheduled for Monday afternoon, but results had not been returned to the Sheriff’s Office as of press time Tuesday.

He said Coleman was taken to University Hospital in New Orleans for treatment of her injuries. Coleman was said to be in stable condition Tuesday afternoon and was able to identify Washington as the shooter from a photographic lineup, Jones said.

Jones said Coleman and Washington had been together earlier in the evening Sunday prior to the shooting. The two returned to Coleman’s Fir Street home while Wactor was there. Jones said there was no evidence of any aggression from Wactor prior to the shooting.

“He was shot in cold blood,” Jones said.

Jones said Washington has a prior criminal record dating back to 1991 when he was arrested in Orleans Parish on armed robbery and weapons charges. He pleaded guilty to the charges in 1992 and served 14 years of a 28-year sentence. Before being released in 2005, Washington was put on parole suspension until 2019.

Jones said Washington’s connection to the St. John Parish area comes from a former cellmate of Washington’s who lives in the area. Jones did not comment further.

A handful of neighbors said Monday they recalled hearing about six rounds of gunfire right around 2 a.m. Monday. One neighbor even said she had seen a truck peeling out and driving away from the home. Deputies arrived soon after that to begin processing the scene.

Neighbors were still stunned by the shooting late Monday, but some believe that the gunman and the female victim know each other. They described Wactor as a quiet man who usually stayed indoors caring for his pet dachshund.

“He was a nice man,” said one neighbor who wished not to be identified. “We never talked much, but we saw him every now and then with the dog. The dog is being taken care of by us now.”