The two girls who allegedly killed their mother Friday night were calm and collected when they tapped on the window of a neighbor’s car and asked him for a ride to town as Ericka Hall lay dying on her front lawn across the street.
The girls said their grandmother had just died and they needed to go to McComb, neighbor Jeremy Lenoir, 20, said.
“I was willing to take them and I said, ‘No, let me ask my mom,’ because they were younger girls,” he said Tuesday.
Lenoir’s mother came outside and noticed the lights were on in Hall’s Nissan Altima. She thought that was odd and tried calling Hall but got no answer, so she contacted Hall’s relatives, who live just down the road.
“We rushed down the street to her daddy and her sister’s house, and when they came and drove down here, we found her on the other side of the car laid out,” Lenoir said.
He said Hall had a knife in her back. Authorities said she had been stabbed multiple times and shot once in the chest with a small-caliber handgun.
“When I went over there she was laying on her back with both of her fists balled up, eyes open, so you could tell she was trying to fight them back,” Lenoir said, still shaken days later. “That was a terrible sight. That messed me up, and to think that her kids did that.”
After questioning Hall’s daughters, deputies have charged 14-year-old Ama-riyona Hall and her 12-year-old sister with murder.
Amariyona Hall is charged as an adult and remains in the Pike County jail on $150,000 bond. Her younger sister, whose name is being withheld because of her age, is being held in the Adams County Juvenile Detention Center.
The signs of Friday night’s carnage were abundant four days later at the family’s home at 1088 Lawson Road east of Magnolia, an older single-wide trailer they rented on a half-acre of land flanked by cow pastures.
Pieces of crime scene tape and several pairs of rubber gloves still littered the yard Tuesday morning, along with cans and strewn garbage, as well as the packaging for an ECG electrode used when deputies and paramedics unsuccessfully attempted to revive the 32-year-old mother of four.
Arrows drawn with orange spray paint followed a trail of blood from the front door to the side of Hall’s car, marking the spot where she collapsed.
Lenoir, who lives with his family in a brick house across the street, said he was shooting fireworks in his yard with his niece and nephew when the killing apparently took place. After that, he was sitting in his car listening to music when he heard a tapping on his window.
“These two little girls, they told me they needed a ride to McComb, their grandmother had passed,” he said.
At the scene, Lenoir said the girls acted calm, but something seemed unusual.
“They seemed weird,” he said. “The girls, they came over here straight-faced, like nothing had ever happened.”
After the paramedics arrived, one of the girls said she needed to smoke a blunt — a marijuana-filled cigar, Lenoir said.
“I thought that was kind of strange,” he said. “Your mother just passed. What are you even thinking about drugs for if your heart is really pure?”
The girls allegedly stabbed their mother inside the house. As she ran into the yard, they reportedly locked the door behind them as they ran after her. Ericka Hall tried to make it to her car, where she kept a gun in the glove compartment, but the attackers got there before she did, Lenoir said.
“She ran to the right side to try to go back into the car and they drug her back to the other side,” he said.
The glove compartment to Hall’s car, parked in the grass a short distance from the front door, was still open Tuesday morning.
The Pike County Sheriff’s Department said a small-caliber handgun was used to shoot Hall — apparently the one she was trying to get.
Lenoir said he heard her relatives say that the girls had been plotting to kill Hall and had already tried once.
“I heard the family talking about that on the Friday night that this had happened,” he said. “They tried to run her over on New Year’s Eve.”
Like Hall, Lenoir and his mother work at the Sanderson Farms processing plant on River Ridge Road. But he said he had little contact with her.
“Honestly, I gave her a boost off one time and that was the only time I had ever talked to her, but I had seen her a lot being neighbors,” he said. “We cut their grass a couple of times.”
Another neighbor, George Hughes, who lives down Lenoir Road and owns the cow pastures surrounding Hall’s trailer, said he’s still in disbelief.
“I had no idea something like this could happen,” he said. “When I got here Saturday I saw a lot of people here.”
Hughes said he only occasionally saw Hall but noticed she left for work at night and came back home early in the morning. He doesn’t ever recall seeing her daughters, but he had seen Hall’s youngest child, a 1-year-old girl. Her other daughter is 16.
“I didn’t know she had daughters here. I just know her car was gone late at night and was back early in the morning so I assume she worked at night,” he said. “I really didn’t know her. I just knew she must have been a hard-working lady.
“I always saw her leaving out in the afternoons and evenings going to work.”
Hughes said he wondered if drugs played a factor.
“I would hope it was influenced by drugs. I can’t imagine somebody not being influenced by something like that,” he said. “There’s a lot of drug problems here.”
Amariyona Hall’s Facebook page presents the teenager as someone much older, saying she works at Foot Locker, attends LSU and lives in New Orleans.
Sheriff Kenny Cotton said both of the girls will undergo a mental evaluation.
Authorities haven’t revealed a motive. But neighbors have reported that it was retribution for their mother taking away their cellphones.
But it’s hard to think anything that could make someone kill their mother, Lenoir said.
“I thought of how much my mom went through for me. ... It’s crazy to just think you’ll hurt your mom, because in any situation that’s who you’re going to go to first,” he said.