Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Thursday (Oct. 22) secured a murder indictment against a woman accused of fatally stabbing her elderly mother two months ago in her St. Claude home.
Wanda Ledet was charged with the first-degree murder of 87-year-old Helen Van Buren (pictured at left), and with resisting a police officer, in the two-count indictment handed up by an Orleans Parish grand jury.
Ledet, 65, faces a mandatory lifetime prison sentence without the possibility of parole or probation if convicted of the murder charge, as the DA’s office is not seeking the death penalty as a capital case. State law supports the charge of first-degree murder in this case because the victim was over the age of 65 and because Ledet has killed before.
Ledet was arrested on a murder charge in San Francisco in 1981, and served prison time in California after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter in that case.
Relatives of the victim summoned New Orleans Police to her home shortly before 2 a.m. on Aug. 4, 2020. They said Ledet had been calling them, saying she had just killed her mother.
Police arrived to find Ledet standing behind a locked iron security door holding a large, bloody kitchen knife. She refused officers’ requests to drop the knife and unlock the door.
New Orleans Firefighters we called in to breach the gate, and police officers deployed a taser to subdue Ledet after she fled to a back bedroom with her weapon. The officers found Van Buren in a bedroom, lying in a pool of blood with stab wounds to her arm, face and neck.
New Orleans EMS stabilized Van Buren for transport to University Medical Center, but she died at the hospital a day later, at 3:14 p.m on Aug. 5.
Police re-booked Ledet on an allegation of second-degree murder after her mother died, and she has remained in custody at the Orleans Justice Center jail in lieu of a bond set at $400,000.
According to an obituary provided by her family, Van Buren served as a cafeteria manager for the Orleans Parish School Board for more than 30 years. She had six children, 22 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren and 19 great-great grandchildren at the time of her death.
Assistant District Attorney Sarah Dawkins presented the case to the grand jury.
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