A TV news story is causing quite a stir in West Baton Rouge Parish and causing some to question whether a 59-year-old Addis woman’s death last year was in fact a homicide.
Sandra Rinaudo died in her home last year, on Aug. 9, 2013. She was survived by her husband, Edward (“Eddie”), her daughter, Ragean Bellelo, and her son, Derrick.
The WBR Parish Coroner’s Office ruled Rinaudo’s manner of death as a homicide, but a grand jury for the state of Louisiana on Nov. 14, 2013 found “no true bill to any crime according to the law of the State of Louisiana and against the peace and dignity of the same.”
Addis Police Chief Ricky Anderson said there is just not enough evidence to support the homicide theory, but that he and Colonel Richie Johnson of the WBR Parish Sheriff’s Office are each offering $5,000 of their own money as a reward to anyone with a new lead on the case.
“Like they say, money talks,” Anderson said.
Anderson said Bellelo was the one who re-ignited the case by taking the story to WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge. He said the information she has is all hearsay and opinions and that, “There is no evidence to suggest what she is claiming.”
Anderson said, “It’s really a case that I’m not at liberty to discuss,” and one for which he would not provide records to news media.
“It’s not a closed case,” he said.
He said information contained within those records could possibly make or break the case in the future.
“That may all come up in the future … It could possibly affect the case in the future,” he said.
The WBR Parish Coroner, however, did release Rinaudo’s autopsy report to the West Side Journal, following a written public records request. The coroner’s office informed the West Side Journal that the report could only be released if the death was not currently under investigation.
The report states that Rinaudo, at the time of her death, had “multiple blunt force traumatic injuries, acute, recent and remote.” Rinaudo also had mild cerebral and thyroid atrophy, in addition to moderate hepatic steatosis, or “fatty liver,” and heart conditions such as borderline enlargement of her left ventricle and moderate degeneration of her mitral valve.
Philip G. Padgett, M.D., of the coroner’s office ruled Rinaudo’s cause of death as “Exsanguination,” or blood loss, due to “Multiple Traumatic Injuries.”
Rinaudo had a reported history of domestic abuse. She appeared before the 18th Judicial District Court in West Baton Rouge Parish six times since November 2006 on charges of domestic abuse battery: in November 2006 and March 2007 regarding her daughter Ragean and October 2007, April 2008, September 2010, and April 2011 regarding her husband Edward (“Eddie”). Sandra Rinaudo also appeared once before court on a simple assault charge in September 2010 regarding Eddie Rinaudo.
Sandra Rinaudo pled guilty to the domestic abuse battery charge against daughter, Ragean, in November 2006. The court placed Sandra Rinaudo on probation for one year and stipulated “no contact with the victim,” according to court documents.
Rinaudo pled guilty a second time to domestic abuse battery against husband, Eddie Rinaudo in April 2011 and was sentenced to serve 60 says in the parish prison.
Many times, the charges against Rinaudo were dropped, often due to the victim (either Ragean or Eddie) not wanting to pursue the charges.
Sandra Rinaudo had a reported history with alcohol, as well.
In February 2008, Rinaudo was charged with “disturbing the peace by intoxication” and “simple assault by assaulting Eddie Rinaudo making threats of burning down his home.” In April 2008, the charges were dropped.
In June 2010, was charged with a second offense DWI and “possession of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles, by having in his/her possession an open container of alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle while on a public highway or right-of-way.”
In September 2010, according to court documents, “After all testimony, the court found the defendant not guilty.”
Rinaudo’s autopsy report dated Aug. 9, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. states among 13 final diagnoses: “Ethanol abuse, chronic, by history.”
Ethanol, according to the Mayo Clinic, is the active agent in alcoholic beverages.
Sandra Rinaudo’s autopsy report states that her Ethanol (Serum) level was 0.371 percent.
Anderson said his department has investigated about two to three homicides a year and several suicides since he became chief on Jan. 1, 2001.
He said he disagrees with any accusations that his department is not properly trained or is ill-equipped to handle homicides.
He said the detective handled the case according to the local District Attorney’s instructions and the detective also consulted with the WBR Parish Sheriff’s Office throughout the process.
“There’s no one to fault here,” he said.