Ex-boyfriend an accused abuser: HPD confirms alleged killer had disputes with victim

Plaisance’s LSU career ends in Sweet 16 versus Louisville
April 2, 2014
Principal swap at Vandy, EDW
April 2, 2014
Plaisance’s LSU career ends in Sweet 16 versus Louisville
April 2, 2014
Principal swap at Vandy, EDW
April 2, 2014

It was the acquisition of a black 2000 Ford Crown Victoria that accelerated the degradation of Barbara Delores Baker and Skylleur Hayes’ relationship, but there were signs beforehand the suspected murderer embraced a vicious temperament, according to Baker’s grandmother, neighbors and one of her co-workers.

Ninety minutes after he barricaded himself in Baker’s apartment Friday, Hayes shot his ex-girlfriend in the head, police said. Hayes had just turned over to negotiators the couple’s 1-year-old son Ra’mon – he asked for a pack of cigarettes in return, Houma Police Chief Todd Duplantis confirmed. The suspect then retreated to the apartment’s small attic while negotiations continued.

Police stormed the unit at 179B Senator Circle amid a cloud of tear gas two hours later. While ushering Hayes to a cruiser, they stopped. Hayes turned to the gathered crowd of onlookers across the street – tears streaming down some of their faces, others still wearing pajamas – and shouted repeatedly at a male walking away: “Watch out for my little n—–, man.”

Hayes, 22, of 948 St. Charles St., Thibodaux, is charged with first-degree murder, false imprisonment while armed with a dangerous weapon, carrying of an illegal weapon by a convicted felon and possession with intent to distribute a Schedule I narcotic (marijuana). He is being held at the Terrebonne Parish Jail in lieu of a $1.5 million bond.

As of Monday, the Terrebonne Parish District Attorney’s office was awaiting the police report, so no date had been set to convene a grand jury. It was also too early to determine whether Hayes would be prosecuted as a capital offender, First Assistant District Attorney Carlos Lazarus said.

Houma Police were called to investigate domestic incidents between Baker and Hayes on four occasions – three times at 179B and once at a second location, Duplantis said.

The only report of violence was apparent shoving on one occasion by both parties. Baker did not have a protective order against Hayes, but the suspect was told by police not to return to the Baker’s Senator Circle unit, Duplantis said.

Baker moved into the east Houma public-housing unit in January, according to Wayne Thibodeaux, executive director of the Houma-Terrebonne Housing Authority. Only Baker and Ra’mon were on the rental lease, he said.

Police responded to 179B twice within a five-day span from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4, Duplantis said. The first incident was a verbal argument. No charges were filed, and no violence was reported to police, the chief said.

On Feb. 4, police arrived to find Hayes had left. Duplantis characterized the incident as a domestic dispute and said the responding officer reported the pair had shoved one another. Nobody was injured, and no charges were filed.

A cashier at Rouse’s Supermarket, Baker used her $2,000 income-tax return to purchase the Crown Vic about a month ago, said Baker’s grandmother, Barbara A. Baker Brown. Baker gave her boyfriend of roughly two and a half years the money and asked him to make the purchase because she didn’t have a valid driver’s license.

Hayes complied, but Baker was still left to carrying Ra’mon to the babysitter on foot before making her trek to work. Hayes, according to neighbors in the public-housing complex, bogarted the automobile for his personal use. “He wouldn’t even bring her back and forth to work,” said Heather Fremin, Baker’s friend and co-worker.

“When he got the car, he started acting stupid,” said Baker Brown, who raised Baker and her high-school-age sister. “He left her and said, ‘Thank you for the car, dumb bitch.’”

Hayes, who stands at 6 feet, 2 inches and weighs 164 pounds, was not on Senator Circle’s “do-not-trespass list,” according to the housing director. However, he was thrown off the premises – either on March 17 or 18; Duplantis’ and Thibodeaux’s accounts conflict – and instructed by police not to return, the police chief said.

Duplantis said the incident occurred on March 17 and concerned a verbal dispute. No charges were filed, and there were no reports of violence. “He was cooperative with the officers,” Duplantis said. “They basically told him not to return.”

Thibodeaux said he learned of the clash from an employee during the standoff. The complex’s manager wrote on a March 18 log she stayed at work after hours until 5:15 p.m. because the resident in 179B “called cops for someone who broke into her unit.”

On March 19, Hayes was driving a black Crown Victoria in the Thibodaux area when Lafourche sheriff’s deputies pulled him over for erratic driving, according to spokesman Brennan Matherne.

During the stop, deputies noticed a later-determined-stolen handgun in the center console and that the temporary tag was registered to a different vehicle, Matherne said. As officers began to detain two passengers in the car, Hayes ran away and eluded arrest.

After fleeing from sheriff’s deputies, Hayes frequently spoke of not wanting to be jailed again, Baker Brown said. About a year ago, Hayes made news when he allegedly threatened a fellow Lafourche Parish Detention Center inmate into covering a security camera while Hayes sparked a fire that caused the jail to be evacuated. In detention then for contempt of court, Hayes was charged with aggravated arson and simple assault, Matherne said.

On March 23, police responded to Rosemary Street relating to another dispute between Baker and Hayes. Baker alleged Hayes stole her cellphone. The officer could not locate the suspect and issued a call for officers to be on the lookout for Hayes. A simple-robbery warrant for Hayes’ arrest was filed three days later for the missing cell phone.

Hayes also began to stalk Baker more intensely going into late March and was frequently violent, her grandmother said.

“He kicked her and stomped on her while she was carrying that baby,” said Baker Brown, who lives in Thibodaux. “He choked her and everything. He choked her by her neck. He’s extremely violent.”

Fremin, the co-worker, said she never saw Hayes abuse Baker, but she was in Baker’s house when verbal arguments reached crescendos. On those occurrences, she left, she said. Other neighbors also said they were unaware of any physical abuse between Baker and Hayes.

Julie Pellegrin is executive director of The Haven in Houma, a shelter for female victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. She said domestic violence remains underreported by victims, often because they fear the perpetrator could remain free and exact recourse.

“Certainly people are threatened by their perpetrators that, ‘If you call police, if you tell somebody, this will be worse,’” Pellegrin said. “Often times they threaten the person’s children: ‘I’ll kill the children, I’ll harm the children if you let anybody know.’ So there’s a multitude of reasons of why, but certainly domestic violence is one of the most underreported crimes.”

There is no one-size-fits all solution for victims of domestic violence, but The Haven offers counseling, opportunities for refuge and familiarity with laws pertaining to abuse and parents’ rights, Pellegrin said.

When Baker didn’t show up to work on Thursday, the day before Hayes took her hostage, Baker Brown feared the worst and raced to Houma from Thibodaux. She learned her granddaughter was hospitalized with a stomach virus. Neither could afford the $40 for medication. Baker Brown left her granddaughter with a warning.

“I told her yesterday, ‘Don’t open that door,’ so I don’t know how he got in that house,” she said.

Baker Brown said her granddaughter was trying to establish a familial environment with Ra’mon – whom police left “in safe hands with family members,” Duplantis acknowledged – but that she couldn’t rid herself of Hayes.

“She was trying to get her life together. She got her a house. She got her a job. She tried to help him go with her, but he don’t want to do right,” Baker Brown said. “She tried to be on her own, but I told her this was too far – I couldn’t get to her if something happened – and now something happened.”

Police load Skylleur Hayes into a unit after he killed ex-girlfriend Barbara Delores Baker.