WOODMERE, La. (WGNO) - One-year ago detectives found the body of a six-year-old girl in a trash can near her apartment. On this tragic anniversary neighbors in that same subdivision say the area is getting safer.
Ahlittia North was just 6-year-old. She was living in Donaldsonville and spending the summer in Harvey when her world came down to a tragic end. Matthew Flugence, a family member who often times babysat her, confessed to killing Ahlittia after her mangled body was found in a trash can waiting to be thrown out like garbage.
“She made an impact. I mean, our heart was broken out, you know,” says Eli Fleming.
Fleming lives off Destrehan Avenue in Woodmere footsteps from where Ahlittia North took her last breath. He says now, one year later, she’s still making an impact.
“It’s become to be like a neighborhood where it’s safe now. People can live and feel secure,” says Fleming, “At that time it was a bunch of abandoned buildings.”
Since Ahlititia’s death Jefferson Parish has brought on Jerry Harrell Jr. to help create and direct Renew Woodmere. Harrell helps beef up the neighborhood’s crime watch, and identify blighted properties.
“It’s a very unfortunate thing that it took a tragedy like that to get people aware that changes need to be made,” says Harrell.
Just one month after Ahlittia’s death, the parish began demolishing vacant, unsafe structures. If you drive down Destrehan Avenue and Alex Kornman Boulevard, empty lots now take the place of what were several fourplexes, and Harrell says they still have a lot more to do.
“Not only were the buildings in bad condition, they’d have abandoned cars parked in front of them, windows, broken, high grass, trash. It was a very disturbing thing,” says Harrell.
Angela Davis moved in to the fourplex Ahlittia once called home. It’s one of a few buildings that’s not slated for demolition.
“We’re the only ones left on this end. From this building on down to the third building they’re empty,” says Davis.
Matthew Flugence is behind bars awaiting trial. His next appearance in court is scheduled for September 12th.
So far the parish has demolished at least five fourplexes, several are shuttered up awaiting demolition, and a few are hung up in legal battles.