99-year-old man strangled; family wants answers

Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 2:20pm

NEW ORLEANS, LA (FOX8) -- At 99 years old, Leon Brier -- known in his neighborhood as ‘Smokey’ -- showed no signs of slowing down.

“He’d have a three-wheel bike with a basket on the back. He had an ice chest in the back and he’d put his beer in it and ride that bike to the French Quarter and dance,” says Jean Craddock, Brier’s daughter.

Craddock says her dad was the life of the party. “He’d sit here for Jazz Fest and every now and then he’d get up and dance,” she told us.

“Smokey Brier was like the mayor of this neighborhood and the spiritual father of this neighborhood,” says Dawn Dedeaux.

Brier’s old friend, August Lewis, says he had recently taken Brier to the doctor for a health exam. “We were all sitting on the porch and he was looking at the papers, showing everybody that everything was ok. Everything was normal with his health.” says Lewis.

Six days later, Lewis says he stopped at Brier’s house for a visit and found him lying in his recliner.

“We thought he was asleep. When I came over and patted him down and tried to get him up, he wouldn’t move. I called his daughter and his grandson,” says Lewis.

Brier was dead. An autopsy later revealed Brier was strangled. His family and friends are shocked.

“We were expecting him to make a hundred easy," says Lewis.

“Why kill such a great man? He was so generous also.” says Dedeaux.

The NOPD is now investigating Brier’s death as a homicide. His family is desperate for answers.

In his 99 years, Brier was a father, a husband and a World War II veteran. He may be remembered most, though, as a great guy who lived life to the fullest.

If you know anything that could help police find his killer, call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.

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