OPELOUSAS — Hank Moran stood over his wife’s bloodied body Tuesday morning, holding a pocketknife in his hand, police said, and told an officer, “I bet she listens to me now.”
His wife, Constance Moran, 56, died after being stabbed about 14 times at the couple’s home on South Railroad Avenue, Opelousas Police Chief Perry Gallow said.
Moran, 44, booked on a count of first-degree murder, is being held without bail in the St. Landry Parish jail, where he was placed on suicide watch after attempting to swallow a handful of pills, Gallow said.
Constance Moran had called 911 at 5:26 a.m. Tuesday claiming her husband was choking her after the couple had argued over finances.
When two officers got to the home, her husband had left.
Constance Moran told the officers sometimes her husband would walk to nearby Phillip Street Park three blocks away to cool off, Gallow said.
The officers searched the park, found no sign of Moran, and returned to the home within five minutes after leaving Constance Moran.
One of the officers, Gallow said, noticed something was amiss: the back door was open.
An officer looked inside and saw Hank Moran.
“He’s standing over the body of his wife with his knife still in his hand,” Gallow said.
“He made some very derogatory comments toward his wife,” Gallow said, including the one about his wife not listening to him.
On Tuesday afternoon, Shala Fontenot was among the locals gathered at Amanda’s Food Mart.
Fontenot said she was a neighbor and friend of Constance Moran, whom she called “Miss Connie.” Fontenot said a fearful Constance Moran knocked on her door before the police arrived Tuesday.
“He came outside on the porch and was yelling,” Fontenot said.
Fontenot said she later saw police drive up. “I thought they had picked him up,” she said.
James Roy lives across the street and sometimes mowed the Morans’ lawn. He said he seldom heard from the couple and he could not recall a time the pair argued publicly.
“They were some nice people,” Roy said. “I didn’t know there were problems.”
Neighbors, including Roy and Fontenot, said the couple didn’t hold steady jobs, though Roy said Hank Moran sometimes “goes and hustles with a friend.”
Roy said Moran confided that he had been hurt on a job and was collecting workman’s compensation.
The Morans’ home sat empty Tuesday. The wooden, peach-colored shotgun structure sits on blocks and has a tin roof.
On the screened-in back porch, an ash tray held eight Marlboro cigarette butts and a Burger King wrapper. Cluttered in a corner: a clothes dryer, butane bottle and a five-gallon gasoline can. And hanging on the wall: a man’s broken Benrus watch.
Gallow said the couple had not had run-ins with police, nor had police been summoned to the 1232 S. Railroad Drive home for domestic disturbances until Constance Moran called early Tuesday.
Records at the St. Landry Parish Courthouse show there had been no criminal charges filed against either since 1995, and civil court records do not have any record of Constance Moran seeking a protective order against her husband.
The couple in 2005 filed a lawsuit claiming Constance Moran hurt her back and neck while at another Opelousas resident’s home. The case was settled in January 2007; its terms were not disclosed.
The lawsuit provides a peek into the Morans’ finances, which police said was the source of the fight Tuesday.
Moran and his wife claimed in 2005 that they were too poor to pay court fees associated with filing the suit, and sought to be classified as paupers.
Constance Moran wrote that prior to her hurting herself she was a minimum-wage employee at the Dollar General store on West Landry Street, and Hank Moran was an iron worker making $1,600 a month who had been employed for four months at Reed Construction.
“He messed up everything,” said Roy, the neighbor. “His life is gone. Her life is gone.”
Editor’s note: This story was changed on Wednesday, Oct. 9, to correct that it was a fearful Constance Moran, not Hank Moran, who knocked on Shala Fontenot’s door before police arrived on Tuesday.