Firefighters made a tragic discovery on Jan. 15 while extinguishing a one-alarm fire in the Leonidas neighborhood: Larry Williams, 64, was found dead inside a burning shed.
The Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office made another discovery during Williams’ autopsy: The cause of death was not smoke inhalation. Williams had been shot to death.
“Based on this development, the signal for this incident has been changed to a homicide,” the New Orleans Police Department confirmed Thursday (Jan. 26) in an email.
The investigation into Williams’ death remains open, police said. No arrests have been made, and the NOPD said investigators have not identified any suspects.
Williams had been watching an NFL playoff game in the shed, described by a resident of the home as a “man cave,” before he died, the Fire Department stated.
In its report on the incident released Jan. 16, the NOPD listed the death as unclassified and stated Williams was found on a couch in the shed. He had been smoking, the report said, and a space heater was nearby.
The man who lives in the home at 9042 Cohn St., who had been watching the game with Williams, called 911 after he went into the main house and smelled smoke, the NOFD said.
Hearing that someone was trapped inside, firefighters searched the house first but found no one. It wasn’t until they were putting out the fire in the shed that they found Williams. Medics with the Fire Department declared him dead.
The house on Cohn has long been owned by the same New Orleans family. Errollyn Manuel inherited it from his mother after her death in 2017. The Assessor’s Office lists the current owner as Avery Manuel, 58, Errollyn Manuel’s nephew.
Williams’ obituary names both Avery and Errollyn Manuel among his survivors, describing them as lifelong friends.
Williams is also survived by a daughter and four grandchildren, the obituary states. Nicknamed “Nuck,” he is described in the obit as “a kindhearted, generous, loving and selfless person who will be greatly missed by everyone whose lives he touched.”
Anyone with information that can assist in this ongoing investigation is urged to contact NOPD Homicide Unit detectives at 504-658-5300 or to provide information anonymously to Crimestoppers of Greater New Orleans at 504-822-1111.