George Normand was found with a gunshot wound to his chest in the early morning hours of November 23, 2015. With a multitude of unanswered questions and a poorly handled scene, the ruling of George's manner of death is questionable.
NO ONE has been legally tied to the death of George Normand.
Hey, y’all! I’m your host, Peyton, and today’s episode is about a closed case that was ruled as a suicide, but due to so many inconsistencies and unanswered questions, many have doubts about the classification of manner of death. This is The Crimes-Picayune.
Avoyelles Parish emergency services received a call requesting their assistance around 1:40 the morning of November 23, 2015
Lt. Innerarity and Deputy Scandridge were the first to arrive at the Plaucheville home.
Plaucheville is about an hour southeast of Alexandria, so I’d still consider this to be central Louisiana. It’s so small it’s actually considered a village; its population sat at about 240 people at this time.
The two officers entered the “orderly” mobile home through the front door, passing by a single truck in the driveway.
They made their way down a few steps into a structural addition that sits at the front right part of the trailer. There, to the right, in a very small and cluttered storage room, 46 year old George Normand was found lying face up with a suspected self inflicted gunshot wound to his chest.
The 20 GA Winchester pump-action shotgun was found at his feet along with the spent shotgun shell.
The father of 2 was pronounced dead at 2:09 AM.
George Jude Normand grew up just down the road in a small town called Cottonport. After high school he joined the military and served in the Air Force for several years. Fast forward to 2001 when George became a father for the first time. He fathered a little girl with a woman named Kristen - and you’ll hear me mention her again a little later.
Around 2012, George met a woman who I’m going to refer to as “Mary.” George and Mary both had two kids before they met one another and about a year after meeting they moved in with one another - George’s kids did not live with him in this home with Mary but Mary’s kids did when they weren’t visiting their biological father.
Mary’s story about the events that occurred that night vary between the different investigative reports and documents.
Deputy Scandridge and Lt. Innerarity, like I said, were the first to arrive on scene. According to Deputy Scandridge’s report, “Upon arrival we observed [Mary] performing chest compressions on a white male subject, identified as Mr. George Normand… Mr. Normand had a single wound in the chest area, did not appear to be breathing, and had a slight pulse. Mary was observed to be in an emotionally distraught state. I (Deputy Scandridge) attempted to obtain information from [her] but was unable to do so due to [her] emotionally distraught state.”
He continues on but it’s just about procedural stuff like taping off the scene and the on-call detective taking over the investigation.
Detective Cammack, the on-call detective, was dispatched around 2:00 that morning and arrived on scene about an hour later.
In his report he writes, “Upon my arrival I made contact with Dep. Ben Scandridge. Dep. Scandridge reported he was notified to respond to the residence due to a white male subject with a self inflicted gunshot wound to his chest.”
I’m not saying it was intentional but the deputy kind of formed the detective’s opinion for him before the detective was able to form one for himself and I think this potentially had an effect on the outcome of the case.
Det. Cammack’s report continues to say “Dep. Scandridge reported he and LT. Innerarity removed Mary and her two children from her residence and secured the scene with barrier tape. Dep. Scandridge reported Mary was distraught and did not give a statement to the events.”
And remember, this was noted in Dep. Scandridge’s account as well, but what Dep. Scandridge didn’t mention in his report was that he was able to speak to Mary’s 16-year-old son about what happened that night, and according to Cammack’s report, Dep. Scandridge told him that Mary’s son “stated he heard his mother and George arguing, heard the gunshot, then heard his mother tell him to call 911.” So Det. Cammack, according to his report, never spoke directly to Mary’s son about what he saw happen. Mary’s daughter was also in the home the night George died but no one on scene actually ever spoke to her daughter at all, or at least if they did it wasn’t documented. And this is bothersome to me because in just a second I’m going to read you what Mary told Det. Cammack happened that night and her daughter would’ve been able to corroborate or contradict her statement.
So Det. Cammack says that he located Mary in the ambulance and he brought her to his vehicle so they could talk about what happened that night. In his report he writes, “Mary said she and George had been arguing for some time and he was depressed. Mary said she and George had been living together at this residence for two years. Mary said George did not communicate with his family and it was just her and him. [She] said [he] couldn’t find a job, and he had recently went to court over an arrest from last year. Mary said George would argue with her over the littlest things. Mary said [he] told her he did not want to live anymore and was on antidepressants.”
Okay so Det. Cammack brings Mary to his vehicle and he asks her about the events that led up to the incident, according to his report. And, again, we can see she’s setting up this narrative - her boyfriend was estranged from his family, he had mental health issues, he had run-ins with the law, they had been arguing recently before he died, etc. - so she’s giving the detective this sort-of negative image of George before she even tells him what happened that night.
And before I continue, there are medical records from the VA documenting that George told them he was experiencing some sort of abuse at home at the hands of his girlfriend. She was the one keeping him from his family, not the other way around. George was in the process of finding a new place to live because he was so unhappy being under the same roof as her, so just keep that in mind as I continue with the episode.
In Det. Cammack’s report, Mary said that George left walking around dark. She then claims that she and her daughter were in her bed when George returned home. One of the detectives actually took pictures of Mary’s room and included one of her bed where she was “laying with her daughter.” The bed looked like it had been made and the top left corner was pulled back. The comforter isn’t messed up like you would think if you had a mother and a daughter laying underneath it. And the corner that had been pulled back doesn’t seem like it would be a big enough space for an adult to get up? And not to focus too much on the bed but, to me, it doesn’t look “laid in” and it just comes off as staged to me.
Anyway, in Det. Cammack’s report he says that Mary claims that after George returned home, he came into “her” bedroom to change clothes.
I won’t go off on a tangent about the use of the word “her” and not “their” because it might’ve just been an error on the detectives part, but I do think it’s weird that it was referred to as just “her” bedroom.
It doesn’t specify in the report where in the house this happened, but Mary said George told her “I see you so concerned.” She then claims that she went to check on George in the storage room but he had locked the door so she found a screwdriver and pried it open. That’s when George “slammed the door and said “you don’t love me anymore” and then she heard the shot. She said she had to “push open the door because George had fell and blocked it.”
How’d she know that he fell? Did she hear him hit the floor?
She said after opening the door she “immediately called for her son to dial 911 and she began CPR until deputies arrived.”
Cammack’s report concludes with discussion of the funeral home arriving and that the scene was then released to Mary.
The coroner’s notes, written by Asst. Coroner Kirk LaCour, provide a slightly more detailed account, according to George’s girlfriend, about what happened the moments leading up to his death.
After a brief description of the room, it says, “According to Mary, the decedent moved blankets, pillows, and a sleeping bag into that room on November 22, 2015 and he (George) stayed there most of the day. [She] states the decedent was agitated and short tempered throughout the day on November 22. She states at one point around 1600 hours, he dressed in his “hunting clothes” and left for several hours.”
So, again, she’s setting up a storyline for them. She’s providing them with their “why’s” before they even have them. Like why there was a sleeping bag and blankets on the floor of their very cluttered storage room. And then following it up by saying he was in a bad mood and agitated.
She also insinuated that he went hunting - she didn’t explicitly state that he went hunting, but he “put on his hunting clothes.” And if you remember back in Cammack’s notes, it said George came home and changed clothes - which is why he was not found in these “hunting clothes” and instead was in (what looks to me like) sweatpants.
Also, this isn’t mentioned in this report, but George didn’t have a car. He had recently wrecked it and had to walk everywhere he needed to go because she wouldn’t really let him use her car.
So, to me, in my opinion, she’s insinuating that he’s going hunting but didn’t see him leave with a weapon and he didn’t even have a mode of transportation to go hunting except if he were to walk there? How do you go hunting without a weapon? That’s like, kinda the whole point of it.
She seems to be trying to set up a story but it just doesn’t make sense.
In the report, after she claims that he changed into his “hunting clothes” and left for several hours, she said that George left again and came back home just shortly before the incident. LaCour writes, “[Mary] states she went to talk to the decedent and asked him to “come to bed,” but the decedent got mad and slammed the door in her face. Immediately thereafter, she heard the gunshot. She opened the door to find that decedent shot himself in the chest. She reports that she attempted CPR until the ambulance arrived.”
Okay, so, where do I start. So in this recollection of events, there’s no mention of Mary being in bed with her daughter (or if she did say that it wasn’t documented) and nothing was noted about him telling her “she looked concerned” like she told Det. Cammack.
And now she’s saying that the door was “slammed in her face” and she was able to open the door but there’s no mention of needing a screwdriver to open it? There’s also no mention of a struggle to open the door either.
Her 16-year-old son’s bedroom was located up a few stairs in the original trailer about 15 feet from the door to the room where George died and according to the coroner’s notes, he said that he heard the two fighting, then the door slam, and then the gunshot. It says, “He jumped up to see and his mother was trying to get in the door, and then started CPR. He reports that he “went to look for a phone” to call 911 at that time.”
Their accounts of what happened that night, when comparing them to one another within just this one document, are pretty similar but to me they’re expressed differently. And what I mean by that is Mary’s story lacks emotion and/or feelings, while her son’s was more colorful; he said he heard them arguing and the door slammed and the gunshot and then she struggled to open the door before she started CPR. Hers, to me, just felt rehearsed.
And it probably was! I mean, the two had ample time to get their story straight since they were all removed from the scene together shortly after Dep. Scandridge and LT. Innerarity arrived.
One of the biggest issues I have with this entire case is the fact that zero post mortem tests were conducted - there wasn’t an autopsy done, no toxicology tests run, and no gunshot residue test done on anyone.
Kirk LaCour, the assistant coroner, specified in his report that there wasn’t any trauma to any other part of his body except for where the bullet entered his chest. In the photos that were taken at the funeral home, there is CLEAR trauma/markings to his left hand that absolutely didn’t come from the pellets from the shotgun shell. The trauma to his left hand, to me, is consistent with injuries like cuts or stabs. Why isn’t this mentioned in the coroner’s report when a picture was taken of these injuries and placed in the case file?!
If you remember back to what Mary told Det. Cammack, she said she used a screwdriver to open the door to the room before it was slammed in her face. Could the screwdriver have been used to cause the markings found on his body?
George’s mouth had obvious trauma as well. He had teeth missing and what appears, from a photo taken at the funeral home, to be a busted lip.
I would absolutely expect mouth injuries if the barrel had been placed in his mouth instead of his chest, so where did these injuries come from?
Mary never mentions them getting into a physical altercation or that George had self-harmed that night.
I also want to mention that there was a chip missing from the wooden grip of the stock of the shotgun (that’s the part of the gun where your dominant hand/fingers rest when you’re shooting.) And to play devil’s advocate here, we don’t know if the gun was chipped during his death or before, but it’s definitely possible the chip came from someone using that part of the gun to knock George down, hitting his mouth, and ultimately knocking some of his teeth out and busting his lip.
The shotgun was found underneath his right foot. The bottom half of the gun was found on top of this kind-of makeshift pallet of blankets on the floor and the front half of the gun rested on the base of an oscillating fan. And to simplify that explanation his right foot rested on the gun which rested on the blankets and fan. His left leg/foot was tangled up in the pallet/blankets Mary claimed he brought in that room earlier that day.
Now, she did say that she moved his body in order to perform CPR, so I’m not sure how much time should be spent looking into the odd positioning of the gun at this point in time because we know this isn’t how the scene looked when Mary first entered this room; we don’t know what it did look like before she moved him because she wasn’t asked… or if she was, it wasn’t documented.
I also think knowing the orientation of the gun would’ve helped indicate to investigators how George’s body was positioned when he was shot. Det. Cammack mentioned blood spatter in his report but there weren’t any pictures taken of it and this also would’ve provided the most evidence for investigators, in my opinion, to determine his positioning when the gun was fired. And that’s one of the biggest questions in this case is “was George standing up or sitting down when the gun was fired?”
Another odd element of the story relating to the gun that I kind of skimmed over earlier was that the shotgun shell was found, ejected, lying near the gun and George’s body. This was a pump-action shotgun, so the shell wouldn’t have ejected itself without someone pumping it and intentionally clearing it.
According to J.D. Thomas of Forensic Consulting Services, the forensic analyst and blood spatter expert Kristen hired to review the case file and crime scene photos, the forearm of the pump action shotgun was in the back position, which is the position needed to eject the cartridge casing. However, Mr. Thomas states that “Had Mr. Normand held the firearm facing him, the recoil would have forced the firearm AWAY from his body, in the same direction that the firearm would have had to move to eject the casing. In the same action, Mr. Normand would more than likely be moving backwards in the opposite direction of the firearm and the forearm after firing.”
Mr. Thomas goes on to state in other comments that this did not appear to be a suicide due to “muzzle to target distance [which] eliminated self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
Muzzle to target distance is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the distance between the muzzle (or tip) of the gun to the target. The distance between the tip and the target is determined based on the markings that are left behind from the gunshot.
This isn’t something I’m very familiar with, so I’m mainly going to be quoting JD directly - and I want to reiterate that JD and I both only have access to reports, crime scene photos, and whatever else is in the case file. Neither of us were there at the scene or have talked to those involved in the case so our opinions are solely based on what I just mentioned.
In his analysis, JD writes “there is a discrepancy regarding the muzzle to target distance. One reporter writes visible powder burns while another report states there were no powder burns present. One report writes that he observed distinct contact gunpowder burns while another report states close range entry wound.”
I quote all of that to say that based on crime scene photos, Mr. Thomas doesn’t believe that suicide is possible based on muzzle to target distance.
Something else that was odd about the gun was that Mary told Kirk LaCour that she had removed all of the guns from the home months ago because of George’s “moods.” The report doesn’t detail how many she had removed or where she moved them to it just states that she said she removed them because of his moods and, once again, she’s creating this narrative to point to suicide being the only option here.
I feel like this was also done with the use of multiple pill bottles lying ever-so-coincidentally next to the gun. All of the prescriptions on the bottles were made out to George Normand. But when Kristen received the pill bottles back from the evidence room at APSO she noted that not all of the pills in the bottles matched the description on the label as written in the coroner’s notes.
If a toxicology report was conducted, we’d know if George had substances in his system that he wasn’t prescribed.
The part of the house where George died was an addition, so it wasn’t apart of the original trailer - like I said earlier.
The addition contained just two rooms, separated by a small kind-of landing area in front of about 5 steps that leads to the trailer.
The room where George died measured 8’9” x 12’ and according to the coroner’s report, the other room - that was a bedroom - was slightly bigger but I don’t think this one was measured.
The two rooms shared a closet, but this closet was not accessible from the landing/stairs - the closet was located behind it (It’s almost like a Jack and Jill bathroom but instead it’s a closet. I’m sure there’s a name for it but I’m not Joanna Gaines, this is just a crime podcast.)
So if one bedroom could be accessed by another through the closet, why did Mary have to use a screwdriver to pop open the door after she claimed that George locked it? Or why did she have to struggle to get inside after George was shot when she could’ve just gone through the closet from the other bedroom?
I wonder if investigators knew about the setup of the closet because it wasn’t drawn in their sketch of the scene?
In addition to the second entry through the closet not being sketched was the fact that the window screen to the other bedroom was discovered to be propped up against the wall outside the home. Could someone have entered through this window, gone through the closet, shot George, and fled the scene back through the closet to avoid being seen? The room George was in couldn’t have been accessed from the outside because there was a window unit preventing anyone from doing so.
Oddly enough though, on the ground in between George’s right arm and torso was a small black flashlight. It’s almost like he heard someone coming in through the window or closet and grabbed the flashlight so he could see? I mean, sure the room is cluttered but what are the odds of a flashlight lying directly next to his body?
The last thing I want to mention about the scene was that in Det. Cammack’s report he noted a single truck in their driveway that belonged to Mary. Mary’s 16-year-old son also owned a truck but it was unable to be located the night of George’s death. Her son was home that night, so where was his truck? Could it have been used as a getaway vehicle?
There are so many unanswered questions that I have, that the family has, that the community has, that if the scene had been processed more thoroughly and the documentation done by the responding officers was more detailed, I think we’d have a clearer answer to George Normand’s manner of death. APSO has been presented with JD’s analysis and Kristen has asked them innumerable questions, but here we are 5 years later with no more answers than we had the night of November 23rd, 2015.