BATON ROUGE, La (FOX44) — Sharon Phillips lives in a small home off of Babin Road in Gonzales. She has cows grazing up the road and says she keeps mostly to herself. For the 40 years that she's lived in Ascension parish, she's never heard of anything like the tragedy that took place in her own neighborhood over the weekend.
Late Saturday night, deputies showed up at Phillip's house, asking if she had seen anything unusual. She told them she hadn't. Later that night, she learned that Robert Irwin Marchand, 74, and his stepson, Douglas Dooley, 50, had been brutally murdered. Robert's wife, Shirley, was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Deputies say someone broke into their home and slit their throats. They believe that person also stole a safe with at least $100,000 worth of rare coins. Deputies say the person who killed Marchand and his stepson might have known the Marchands.
Phillips has known Robert for years.
"He had character," she says. "That's the best way to put it. The man had character."
When she learned of the violent home invasion that happened just a short walk from her own home, she was stunned.
"What a horrible way to end your life," she says. "Why? Why? And how could they? These were wonderful, generous people."
For the many years that Phillips has lived in Ascension Parish, she's never been afraid for her safety.
"It's quiet. It's been quiet. That's why I moved out of Baton Rouge when I was 17. I saw where it was going," she explains.
Over the weekend, her feelings of being safe changed completely.
"Yesterday I was shaking like a leaf all day," she says. "I've become more vigilant, more ill-at-ease, nervous."
Now, her family has a buddy system every time they walk outside.
"I started locking my doors. Before this, my doors were always open," she says.
Phillips mourns the loss of her old friend. "The world is going to be a darker place without him."
She mourns something else as well. "Times have changed," shes says. "It's not the same world that I grew up in."
She says her neighborhood may never be the same again. "It's going to take awhile. It's going to take awhile around here."
Deputies say they are following up on several different leads with this case and they're still interviewing everyone who had contact with the Marchands leading up to the invasion. They've also added extra patrols to the Babin Road area.