was born on October 31, 1911. She was murdered on October
24, 1994 exactly one week before her 83rd birthday.
name is Rita Sybil Juneau Rabalais. She was raised in the
small town of Moreauville, Louisiana. She could vividly
remember the "Great Flood of 1927". She married Reid
Rabalais and they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary
a church ceremony repeating their wedding vows. He died
within a year after this milestone in their life. He had
been very ill and homebound for years before he died. He had
a type of lung disease that caused his lungs to be like
had one child who died in his senior year of college at
Louisiana Tech University located in Ruston Louisiana. He
belonged to a pilot's club at the university. He learned to
fly the small, one passenger planes. He flew the plane home
one weekend to take his uncle, Rita's brother, flying around
to check out hunting places. They crashed into pecan tree
in the field where he planned to land. He died instantly -
he was 21 years old. My uncle who was the passenger in the
plane was hospitalized in the VA hospital for over a year,
overcoming his injuries. When my aunt finally got over the
shock of her son's death and was able to get out and around
people again, she never missed one day visiting her brother
in the hospital.
Rabalais was an extremely devout Catholic. She rose every
morning early and prayed her rosary and said several novenas
that she had promised to pray for other people's
intentions. Never did anyone ever ask her to pray for them
that she ever refused. I know that many times people ask me
to pray for them and I assure them I will, then forget about
it. She never ever forgot anyone's prayer intentions.
attended mass every morning without fail. She did all she
could for the priest, at not only our church but also the
surrounding churches. She made the most beautiful priest
vestments and altar cloths imaginable. She did alterations
for the priest. She cooked many meals and had several
priests from surrounding church parishes over for special
dinners. She was a member of the Catholic Daughters of
America. She was a member of the St. Rita Church altar
society (our family's home church). She and her husband
were charter members of St. Rita Parish Church.
was a very talented seamstress. She worked at some very
well-known retail stores here in Alexandria, Louisiana. She
did alterations on very expensive wedding dresses, veils,
etc. She made my wedding dress for me. In fact she made
all of my clothes until I was out of high school.
volunteered her time to work at the Saint Vincent de Paul
store our church operated. (Clothes and household goods for
the needy were sold cheaply or given to very needy people
the day she was murdered, she was not present at the 8:00
a.m. daily mass that she always attended. This particular
day, my mom went to that mass and was very concerned that
Aunt Rita was not there. She had an ill, eerie feeling
during the mass and left as soon as it was over to go and
check on Aunt Rita. As I said earlier, she never
missed daily mass.
mom arrived at Aunt Rita's home, she knocked on the door and
at the same time noticed that it was just slightly ajar.
Mom called out for Aunt Rita and got no answer. Mom stepped
inside the house and called out for her again. She checked
her garage and saw that Aunt Rita's car was inside. She
returned into the house and called me and asked me to come
over because something was not right. I called my son to
meet me there.
we got there, we went in and I immediately noticed a chest
of drawers that had been moved from where she had it and it
was placed in front of her closet door. I called the police
department. After the officer arrived, he and my son, who
was not quiet 20 years old at the time, went into the house
and looked around. Eventually, the police officer had my
son help him move the chest of drawers and as the policeman
shinned his flashlight into the dark closet, my son saw his
great-Aunt lying in a fetal position in a pool of blood.
took from October until mid-December for the detectives to
get enough leads to make an arrest. They called and said
they had arrested four black male teenagers. The grand jury
Several months passed and five more were arrested for this
had to wait a long time for the first one to go to trial.
He was found guilty by the jury. The second phase of the
trial was the sentencing phase, where the jury had to go
back and decide whether he would get life in prison or the
death penalty. He was given the death penalty.
second killer to go to trial was also convicted of first
degree murder of the elderly and he likewise got the death
killer received life in prison without possibility of pardon
or parole. The others got varying degrees of manslaughter.
So far, one is already back out on the streets. He cut a
deal with the DA and testified against the others. Two of
the killers will be eligible for parole around Christmas of
Rita was a very petite little lady. She was about five feet
two inches and weighed about 100 -- to 110 pounds. She had
a hard life, losing her son and having to care for her very
sick husband for so long. But she never complained.
favorite flowers were "Sweet Peas." My dad planted
some along his driveway and she marveled at their beauty.
She loved her little miniature poodle "Petite". She
cooked for him (boiled chicken--deboned). She
celebrated his birthday with him. She was an excellent cook.
She taught me everything I know about baking. Every
Saturday was baking day at her house. When I was a
young girl I would go over to her house (she only lived
about 4 blocks away) and bake with her. She baked her
husband a cake every week, as well as cookies for the cookie
jar for visitors like my brothers and me.