UPDATE: June 21 ― The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana has reclassified the death of Pauline Ballon, announcing that she died of natural causes and not a homicide.
“Ms. Ballon’s death, with its very unusual circumstances and physical findings, will be classified as natural,” Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich said at a Thursday press conference. Authorities said the decision was made upon reviewing hours of surveillance video, which showed no one had entered her apartment.
An autopsy on an 84-year-old woman found dead in her bed showed she had been strangled, upending what initially appeared a death from natural causes, Louisiana authorities said.
Pauline Ballon was found unresponsive and face-down in her bed Tuesday night by a security guard at Metairie Manor IV, an apartment complex for senior citizens owned by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, police said.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a press release the case at “first appeared to be death by natural causes.”
But a post-mortem examination on Wednesday revealed Ballon died from strangulation, authorities said. The sheriff’s office didn’t identify any suspects or a possible motive.
Ballon’s son reportedly had choice words for the killer.
“I just hope they find this guy so I can kill him,” he told The Advocate, which didn’t publish his name.
Neighbors are puzzled and afraid.
“Why is there so much killing going on? This world is crazy,” Sandra Beavers told WWL-TV. “I always leave my door unlocked, but I won’t be leaving it unlocked now.”
Resident Raymond Mackiewicz, 66, told The Times-Picayune he last saw Ballon on Tuesday afternoon.
“She had a lot of friends,” he said. “She was the life of this place.”
Ballon’s body was discovered soon after she returned from a trip to a casino, “where she won,” a woman who described herself as Ballon’s “best friend” told WWL Radio, which didn’t identify her.
Ballon’s apartment is in one of 16 complexes owned by the Archdiocese of New Orleans for elderly people and those with physical disabilities.
A statement from the archdiocese obtained by WDSU News reads, in part:
“We pray for the repose of her soul and for the consolation of her family and friends. At this time, we are cooperating fully with authorities and will continue to do so throughout their investigation.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 504-364-5300.