Deputies search river for man after family slayings

River searched for man’s body

The estranged wife of a Gonzales man accused of fatally shooting her and their son before possibly jumping to his own death Thursday off a Mississippi River bridge claimed in a series of court papers — some filed days before the slayings — that she had a turbulent marriage with a physically and emotionally abusive husband.

Dewona Wright Green, 40, 41047 Lakeway Cove Ave., Gonzales, had filed for divorce Tuesday and, since Feb. 28, 2013, had filed three petitions for a protective order against her husband, Ronald Green Sr., 44. Dewona Green claimed Ronald Green Sr., also of Lakeway Cove Avenue until a few days ago, hit, kicked and choked her and constantly questioned her about her whereabouts and her care for their son.

“Your honor, things are getting worse and worse, I have tried, but my husband has control issues. He goes wherever he wants and wants my son to be with me 24/7, but when I go, he goes crazy,” Dewona Green wrote in an April 8 petition for protection from abuse. It was the last of the three she filed in Ascension Parish.

Ascension Parish sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said deputies found Dewona Green and the Greens’ son, Ronald Green Jr., 12, shot dead in a bedroom of their home after East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies reported Thursday that Green Sr. had told a friend he was going to jump from the Veterans Memorial Bridge in St. John the Baptist Parish.

The friend called East Baton Rouge Parish deputies.

The front-door glass was shattered when Ascension deputies arrived at the home in Gateway Cove subdivision off La. 44 sometime after 2 a.m. Thursday.

Green Sr.’s car was found early Thursday abandoned and still running on top of the bridge.

Bacala said deputies from Ascension and St. John the Baptist parishes used boats and helicopters Thursday to search the Mississippi River for Green.

Bacala said investigators believe Green jumped from the bridge — though they know of no one who actually saw him jump — but the search for his body could take days, weeks or months if he drowned.

“We are pursuing the case as though he is still alive,” Bacala said.

A warrant for Green’s arrest has been issued on two counts of first-degree murder and violation of a protective order, Bacala said.

Green was under a temporary restraining order tied to the April 8 petition for a protective order, which was pending ahead of a May 2 hearing.

He was arrested Saturday on a count of violating that temporary order for allegedly following Dewona Green and their son after their visit to her grandmother’s house in Baton Rouge, Bacala said. Green Sr. was released from the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail after he posted bail, Bacala said.

Grieving family members gathered outside her home Thursday morning said they were not surprised at what happened and also claimed that Green Sr. was physically and emotionally abusive during the six-year marriage.

“He was very controlling,” said Dewona Green’s mother, Linda Wright, of Baton Rouge.

“And abusive,” added Dewona Green’s uncle, Norris Wright, of Baton Rouge. Wright said he had just changed the locks on his niece’s doors.

Linda Wright said officers notified her about the slayings at 3 a.m. Thursday at her job at a Baton Rouge Wal-Mart store, she said. Dewona Green was her only child.

“She was going to a doctor a lot, taking medicine for anxiety, and medicine for rest. But you could never tell. She was always smiling,” Linda Wright said.

Family members said Dewona Green worked as a dispatcher for Entergy in Baton Rouge, a company she had been with for about eight years, and was also a student at the University of Phoenix, studying business.

“She was really loved by everybody. She was a people person, very kind,” Norris Wright said.

Ronald Green Jr. was a student at Central Middle, where he played safety on the football team and was a good student.

“He was very smart and loving,” said Linda Wright, his grandmother.

Dewona Green withdrew the first protective order she had filed against her husband in late February 2013.

In it, she alleged several instances of physical abuse, including a choking incident six months earlier, a time when Green Sr. punched her and broke her eardrum several years ago, and an incident a week after Christmas 2012 in which Green punched and kicked her in front of their son.

The second petition was dismissed for lack of evidence July 1 by Judge Guy Holdridge, of the 23rd Judicial District Court, filings show.

Earlier this month, the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office’s Domestic Violence Unit helped Dewona Green get a temporary restraining order against her husband after she reported April 7 about a disturbance the previous evening, Bacala said.

“She didn’t want to file charges. She called but she didn’t want to give a written statement,” Bacala said of the April 6 incident.

He added deputies spoke to both Dewona Green and Green Sr. and got different versions of incident.

In the April 8 protective order petition, Dewona Green alleged a violent episode that started when Green accosted her in front of their son.

Green Sr. was upset about her going out, leaving their son with her mother and not answering her cellphone. Green Sr. checked to see if Dewona Green’s cellphone rang when he called it and emptied her purse and rifled through the contents.

Dewona Green told her husband she went for drinks and food. The argument escalated, she alleged. Green Sr., who is 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 210 pounds, eventually began choking her in the garage in front of their son, the petition alleges.

“He wrapped his hand around my neck, held me up on my toes with my head against the garage wall and squeezed my neck until I had no feeling in my legs,” Dewona Green wrote.

“When he let go, I dropped to the ground. He picked me up and did it again. Our son stood there crying and he (Green Sr.) yelled at him again to go in the room. He shoved me back in the house by the couch after he finished going through my car and started asking more questions about where I was and why did I leave my son.”

Green Sr. was served with the temporary restraining order April 11 at their home on Lakeway Cove Avenue and deputies stood by until he gathered his clothes and left, Bacala said.

Before Green left, he was warned that if he returned to the home or attempted to contact Dewona Green, he would be arrested for violation of the protective order, Bacala said.

The arrest on charges of violating the order came the next day, April 12, when Green Sr. showed up at Dewona’s grandmother’s house in Baton Rouge, Bacala said. He wanted to talk with his son, and did.

When Dewona Green and their son left, her husband began to follow them in his car. She found two Baton Rouge police officers at a CATS bus station. The officers spoke with Green Sr., still in his car behind her, then arrested him on violation of the restraining order, Bacala said.

Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies met Green Sr. at the Lakeway Cove Avenue home Sunday to monitor him while he collected personal property from the home, Bacala said.

The killings happened less than four days later.

“Outsiders couldn’t tell,” said family friend Joyce Page, of Baton Rouge.

The double homicide is the second domestic slaying in the past two weeks in Ascension. A Gonzales-area man killed his wife and then shot himself April 3.

Beth Meeks, executive director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the first quarter of 2014 has shown an uptick in domestic homicides, with more than 20 statewide.

Meeks also defended the effectiveness of orders of protection, saying they are as good as the communities and agencies make them and said they do halt violence from many offenders. At the same time, she said, some offenders just won’t be stopped.

A few doors down from the Green’s home on Lakeway Cove Avenue, a family grieved the loss of their neighbors, one sign that domestic homicides have a community impact broader than the loss the immediate family feels.

“He was a good kid, very nice,” said Jeremy Nugent, whose son, Hunter, was friends with Green Jr.

Hunter, who also attends Central Middle, said he and Green Jr. would play basketball together, ride their scooters and bikes around the neighborhood and play video games.

Jeremy Nugent’s wife, Shariha Nugent, said of Dewona Green: “She was the sweetest person you’d ever meet.”