Stabbing victim had row with girlfriend, records show

A Baton Rouge man found stabbed to death in his backyard last month had been in a heated argument with his girlfriend shortly before he was killed, according to court records that reveal new details of the unsolved slaying.

Detectives probing the Sept. 22 death of Gary T. Murphy have questioned Kendra Riley Druel — the last person Murphy was seen alive with — and obtained a sample of her DNA, records show.

Druel, 37, has not been booked with a crime, and police said Wednesday that the case remains under investigation.

But police say she and Murphy had been in some kind of domestic dispute in the hours before he was found slain.

A large knife Druel said she used to chop potatoes before the argument was not found by crime scene investigators.

Efforts to reach Druel for comment were unsuccessful.

Court records show she pleaded guilty this year in a separate case to charges she battered an elderly woman with dementia while working at a local nursing home.

The pending homicide inquiry began Sept. 23 when officers responded to Murphy’s home at 2658 Jefferson Ave.

His roommate had discovered his body in the backyard shortly before 6 a.m.

Murphy, 42, had been stabbed several times, Beau Clark, the parish coroner, has said.

Druel told detectives the argument happened about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 22.

“Kendra stated that her property was thrown out in the backyard by the victim, which coincidentally was where the body of the victim was discovered,” Detective Caan Castleberry wrote in an affidavit.

Druel told police that a friend picked up her and her 12-year-old daughter shortly after the argument with Murphy and drove them to her brother’s home on Alabama Street.

Investigators interviewed several of Druel’s family members and discovered “several inconsistencies in their statements about who came to pick Kendra and her daughter up the night before,” an affidavit says. Detectives believe Murphy died around the time his girlfriend left his residence, the affidavit shows, based on rigor mortis and body decomposition.

Investigators seized a pair of brown sandals belonging to Druel during a search of the Alabama Street residence last week, records show.

According to the affidavit, investigators were interested in an unknown substance “near the toe of one of the sandals, which possibly may be the victim’s blood.”

Druel was arrested in 2011 on allegations she slapped a disabled resident on the arm while changing her diaper.

She had been working at the time as a certified nursing assistant at a local nursing home.

“You think I’m scared of you,” Druel told the woman, according to court records. “I fight old people too.”

Druel pleaded guilty in January to simple battery and was placed on probation, according to court documents.