New Orleans, LA – Four teens accused of dragging a 73-year-old woman to her death during a carjacking in March will be tried as adults.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams announced that the suspects, 17-year-old John Honore, 15-year-old Lenyra Theophile, 15-year-old Marquel Curtis, and 15-year-old Briniyah Baker, have all been charged with second-degree murder in the March 21 death of 73-year-old Linda Frickey, WBRC reported.
The teens are each being held on $1 million bond.
Williams said that the severity of the incident made it inappropriate for the juvenile court system, WBRC reported.
“Four or five years is just not enough,” the district attorney said. “The juvenile sentencing limits would be inadequate to ensure that these young people are appropriately held accountable for taking a life.”
The offense of second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison in Louisiana, WBRC reported.
“This was one of the most violent carjackings we’ve ever seen; these young people dragged Mrs. Frickey, severing her arm as they all fled the scene in her car,” Williams said in a statement. “Today’s grand jury decision to indict these young people for Second Degree Murder is fair and ensures they are appropriately held accountable.”
The horrific incident occurred in the 300-block of North Scott Street at approximately 1:30 p.m. on March 21, WVUE reported.
Frickey, a 73-year-old life insurance agent, was leaving her job at Security Plan Insurance when she was targeted, her family told WDSU.
Frickey was putting something in her vehicle when four suspects suddenly jumped into her car and sped off, according to her sister-in-law, Kathy Richard.
“She got tangled in her seatbelt because they did not give her time to get out,” Richard told WDSU.
The suspects dragged Frickey with the vehicle for over a block before her arm was severed and she fell to the ground, according to the news outlet.
Neighbors chased after the vehicle and tried to stop the driver, but were unable to do so.
“I got out of my vehicle screaming, ‘Stop, stop. You are dragging someone!’” Todd Ecker told WDSU. “He took off with the vehicle, still dragging her. Reckless. No care for human beings at all.”
Frickey was lying on the pavement unresponsive with her arm dismembered from her body when first responders arrived, WVUE reported.
She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Frickey leaves behind her husband, children, grandchildren, and siblings.
“She would have helped anyone off the streets,” Richard told WDSU. “She would have given them the car if they would have just given her the chance to step away.”
The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) released security camera images of the four suspects in the wake of Frickey’s murder and urged members of the community to contact police if they had any information about what took place, WVUE reported.
“The community did just that,” NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said during a press conference shortly after the teens’ arrests. “So many of you decided not to allow this to be the norm…You decided to step up and say what it is that you saw or what you knew.”
These efforts, combined with the “hard work of the men and women of the New Orleans Police Department” resulted in the arrests of those responsible, Superintendent Ferguson told reporters.
Perhaps most helpful of all was the involvement of the parents of two of the suspects.
“The parents of one 15-year-old female immediately called our investigators and turned their daughter in,” Superintendent Ferguson said. “Then, the parent of the 17-year-old turned her son in.”
The parents reached out to the NOPD within an hour of the photos being released.
Investigators were subsequently able to gather enough information to execute a search warrant, leading to the arrests.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision on behalf of these parents,” Superintendent Ferguson noted. “I want to commend them for doing the right thing, and absolutely we need more parenting like that.”
“There are a lot of emotions,” the superintendent added, referring to the parents who turned their children in to police. “I won’t even begin to want to wonder what those emotions are like.”
Frickey’s family said they will remember her for her generosity and positive regard for others, WDSU reported.
“She was just the kindest. The best person,” said her sister, Jinny Lynn-Griffin. “It is a hole in all of our lives that we will never get back. She will be deeply missed. That is all I can say.”
Lynn-Griffin said her family was pleased to learn that those allegedly responsible for her sister’s brutal murder will be charged as adults, WBRC reported.
“We really weren’t looking forward to juvenile because that wouldn’t be enough sentence,” she said. “What sentence is enough? It’s really unknown, but as adults they’ll get a harsher sentence, and that’s what we’re after. The second-degree murder.”
Superintendent Ferguson said he urged Williams to try the teens as adults and that he was thankful to learn of the indictments, WBRC reported.
“I mean, look at the nature of the crime. Brazenness. Broad daylight. No regard for this woman hanging outside the car,” the police superintendent said.
Williams called the incident “heinous and unthinkable,” WBRC reported.
“It was wrong of them to pray on and kill one of our elders. It was wrong to punch and kick a 73-year-old woman. It was wrong to steal her car, it was wrong to pull off with her attached to it. It was wrong to drag her down that street screaming, it was wrong to ignore her cries for mercy, which are embedded in the neighbors’ minds and hearts and ears who were out there at that crime scene,” Williams said.
“There are lines you don’t cross in a civilized society,” the prosecutor told WBRC. “I’m not an advocate for incarceration, but sometimes people need to be locked up. When you commit a crime like this, absolutely you need to be locked up.”