WEST PALM BEACH —
While Marlena Jean Baptiste was celebrating the Fourth of July Wednesday with her family, her ex-boyfriend, Lenoris Lurry, was scrambling around town asking for people to give him three bullets.
The next day, Jean Baptiste, 25, and Lurry, 31, were found dead from gunshot wounds in the West Palm Beach apartment the couple once shared. Police are calling it a murder-suicide, with Lurry firing the fatal shots.
The couple dated for five years, but ended the relationship for good three months ago, according to Jean Baptiste’s family members. Lurry moved out, leaving only Marlena and her younger sister, Roshea Jean Baptiste, living in the apartment.
Roshea said she is convinced Lurry expected her to be home that afternoon, thus the need for the third bullet.
“If I was there he was going to kill me too,” the 22-year-old said today while sitting in her aunt’s home, her two brothers nearby comforting her.
Roshea discovered the bodies Thursday afternoon when she arrived at the apartment with her 3-year-old son, her cousin and her cousin’s daughter. She thinks Lurry was able to get inside because her sister likely left the door unlocked because she was expecting her. The bodies were found in the living room.
“It was a few minutes before we realized they were dead,” Roshea recalled.
Now the family is left wondering why Lurry, a man they took in as part of the family, killed the woman they knew as selfless — someone who had dreams of one day opening a day care, a boutique and finding a man to marry and have a family with.
“It hurts because of how she went but we have nothing but good memories,” said Jean Baptiste’s aunt, Meyon Cross.
Marlena, a Dwyer High graduate, acted as a mother to her three siblings and 11 nieces and nephews, her family said.
She worked at a local Best Buy for the past seven years and was expecting to start training at Wells Fargo to start a new career. She was taking classes at Palm Beach State College and had, after a few reconciliations, finally ended things with Lurry, her family said.
“He was a good person but he just got caught up,” Cross said.
Cross, Roshea and her brothers, Branden and Brodrick Cross, both 28, agreed that Lurry was good to Marlena. Brodrick’s children even called Lurry uncle. But the family said Lurry was too possessive and stalked her. She’d even have to park her car in another location when she arrived home so Lurry wouldn’t know.
Roshea said Lurry was abusive to her sister, forcing Roshea to stay at the apartment with the two because she knew he wouldn’t harm her sister if she stayed.
“He always threatened to kill her,” Roshea said.
While court records show Jean Baptiste filed for a restraining order against another man in 2009 — an order that was eventually dismissed — there is no record of her filing for one against Lurry.
The three siblings believe Lurry knew that the break up was for good this time, and that’s why he killed her, they said.
“She wanted to move on,” Brodrick Cross said.
Meyon Cross said her niece’s story can be an example for other women who are in abusive relationships.
“Love doesn’t hurt you like that,” she said. “If she didn’t want to be with him he didn’t want her to have anything. He was very jealous. He just let the devil use his mind.” She still believes Lurry did try to do everything he could to please her niece.
But the family said Marlena was already a very happy person loved by everyone.
Just hours before she was killed, Marlena updated her Facebook page with a new photo of herself and wrote that she was going to do some errands.
She bumped into her cousin, Shantel Hubbard, in a nearby Walmart. The two talked about her getting her hair done for Roshea’s birthday, which was today.
“She was happy,” Hubbard, 26, said.
“Because she knew she was going home,” Meyon Cross said as tears filled her eyes.