By ERIC CORMIER
Willie Smith returned home safely several days ago after fleeing to his childhood stomping grounds in Crowley for shelter from Hurricane Rita.
On Monday, a neighbor found the 62-year-old, who suffered from kidney disease and other ailments, beaten. Smith died later in the day at a local hospital.
"I went in and saw his face and shirt was real bloody. I knew enough from watching TV not to touch anything, so I went and told a neighbor across the street to call the police and the ambulance," Hodges Cormier, of 3016 Gen. Patton St., told the American Press.
No arrests had been made at presstime.
A person who lives near Smith's 3013 Gen. Patton St. home told police she saw at least two people leaving the victim's home at about noon, the time of the crime.
Police spokesman Sgt. Mark Kraus said investigators were not releasing the "means in which the homicide was committed." An autopsy will be done.
Neighbors said Smith was a quiet man who contended with never-ending health problems.
"He was a good person but real sick. I could see that he may have been sicker the last time I talked to him over two days ago," Syble Guillory, of 3008 Gen. Patton, said.
She said the crime is a shock because the neighborhood is relatively safe.
"Our neighbors are old. When I moved in over 30 years ago, Mr. Smith had been living here before I moved next to him," Guillory said.
Cormier recalled being alerted to something happening by the witness who saw the people leave Smith's house.
"That's when I went inside the house. I didn't see the guys, but she did, and gave a partial description to the police," he said.
Cormier found Smith sitting on a sofa with his head over the sofa's arm.
"I have to say, this kind of scares you a little bit. We tend to be on our own here. This is the first time something like this has happened in our neighborhood. It is quiet here," he said.
Police have not released a description of the assailants.