Marine veteran, son killed by neighbor on Memorial Day in Assumption Parish

BAYOU L’OURSE — The flock of ducks Mark Massoletti and neighbor John Vice had reared and fed waddled across Felicia Street on Monday afternoon toward Massoletti’s yard — oblivious to the horror that happened inside the man’s southern Assumption Parish home hours earlier.

William S. Powers Jr., 32, another neighbor, burst into Massoletti’s home about 4 a.m., brutally killed the 52-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran on Memorial Day, then killed his son, Michael Massoletti, 23, before fatally shooting himself, Assumption Sheriff Mike Waguespack said.

Waguespack said the elder Massoletti was killed in his bed where he was sleeping with his girlfriend, who was not identified. She had only minor injuries, he said.

The girlfriend awoke during the attack and ran to a nearby bedroom to get Massoletti’s son, who with his wife was also asleep, the sheriff said.

While Michael Massoletti’s wife ran to a neighbor’s house to call sheriff’s deputies, Mark Massoletti’s girlfriend and Michael Massoletti fought with Powers, Waguespack said.

Once Michael Massoletti was killed, Powers turned a small-caliber rifle on himself, Waguespack said.

Mark Massoletti’s girlfriend said Monday that Powers viciously attacked her boyfriend. The woman, who refused to provide her name, said she and Michael Massoletti tried to fight off Powers.

Waguespack said Powers bit the woman during the attack. The bite mark was visible on her arm, and she still wore hospital bracelets later that day.

The woman said that Powers burst into the dark bedroom with a pistol pointed at her, and when Mark Massoletti sat up, Powers attacked him.

The woman said she immediately fled to get Massoletti’s son in the other bedroom and could hear what she thinks was Mark Massoletti being stabbed and slashed.

“I could hear him yelling and screaming and hollering,” she said.

The woman said Michael Massoletti woke up and went after Powers with some kind of weapon, but Powers, whom she said was a big man with broad shoulders, was able to overcome him.

“Powers overpowered Michael and threw him on the floor and just stabbed him over and over and over again,” she said.

She said Powers also slashed her on the hand as she grabbed his hand to stop the attack on Michael Massoletti.

The woman said it was her, not Michael Massoletti’s wife, as deputies said, who ran to a neighbor’s house for help. Michael Massoletti’s wife was in the home, calling 911, the woman said.

The woman said she later found Mark Massoletti in his bedroom dead and Powers and Massoletti’s son dead in the son’s bedroom.

“He was literally gutted, Mark, you understand? Gutted,” she said.

Vice, 67, who lives across from the Massolettis, said he had watched Mark Massoletti and his sons grow up along with a lot of the others on Felicia Street. Vice said he and his neighbor shared tools and food on a regular basis and probably would have been barbecuing and offering some of his food Monday.

“We’d trade back and forth,” Vice said.

He said the younger Massoletti had gotten married a few weeks ago and just returned from a honeymoon cruise to live with his dad, who was setting up a mobile home on his property for his son and new wife.

“Michael was a nice boy. Never got in trouble or anything,” Vice said.

Powers, who lived in a rundown trailer at 170 Felicia St., Bayou L’Ourse, across from Massoletti’s home, had been released from Assumption Parish Detention Center in Napoleonville on May 7 after serving a six-month jail sentence, parish court filings say.

Powers pleaded guilty on April 7 to two counts of resisting an officer, two counts of battery on a police officer and single counts of disturbing the peace and simple battery after an attack on another neighbor Dec. 7, the sheriff said.

Powers had refused to get out of the neighbor’s vehicle, which was parked on Felicia, Waguespack said.

He said it took three deputies to bring Powers under control.

Powers had other run-ins with Assumption deputies dating back to 2001, including past marijuana possession, trespassing and remaining after being forbidden convictions, online court filings say.

“He’s somebody, certainly, we have had some dealings with in the past and has had some issues,” Waguespack said.

But he said investigators are still trying to learn more about what may have prompted the slayings.

Waguespack said neighbors told investigators that about a week and a half ago — shortly after Powers was released from jail — the elder Massoletti told Powers that if he stepped past the row of flags in his front yard, Powers was “going to have a problem.”

The Massolettis’ home at 173 Felicia St. is ringed by modern variants of the Confederate battle flag and the Revolutionary War-era “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.

Vice said the elder Massoletti would not speak with Powers. But Vice said he spoke with Powers about 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m. Sunday at his mailbox, which is directly across from the Massolettis’ home, and asked Powers how he was doing and if he had gotten a job since he was released from jail.

Vice said Powers told him he was fine but had not gotten a job yet. “He said he was still looking,” Vice said.

Vice said Powers did not mention having any problems with Mark Massoletti. Waguespack said investigators have not uncovered any incidents immediately preceding the attack.

“What happen between 8 p.m. (Sunday) and 4 a.m. (Monday), who knows?” Waguespack said of Vice’s talk with Powers.

The woman disputed any running disagreement between Mark Massoletti and Powers and claimed Powers should not have been released from jail as soon as May 7; however, Waguespack said Powers completed his sentence.

Waguespack said the father’s and son’s bodies had numerous cuts and lacerations and have been sent to the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office along with Powers’ for autopsies.