Algernon Rieux's mother pounded on the front door of his South Los Angeles apartment early Thursday. Her urgent clamor came too late.
Rieux was due at the Inglewood courthouse in about half an hour. Homicide detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department later said she wanted to make sure her 26-year-old son showed up to court.
"Jackie! Jackie!" she yelled, crying out for her son's wife, Jacqueline Montoya.
But Rieux opened the door, mumbled something to his mother, and handed her his 2-month-old son, Joshua.
"What did you do?" she asked her son, according to neighbor Keyla Foxworth, who described the baby's body as cold, lifeless and soaking wet.
Foxworth dialed 911, and Joshua's grandmother brought his body to the front stoop to begin trying to resuscitate him.
As she hovered over the infant, she screamed, "Someone go check on Jackie!"
Foxworth went inside the apartment, still on the phone with an emergency dispatcher. Montoya's body lay in bed with blankets pulled up to her knees.
There was no visible blood, no bruises on her body, Foxworth recalled. Montoya, with her hands folded, looked as if she could have been sleeping.
The dispatcher told Foxworth to check Montoya's pulse.
"I said, 'She's cold,'" Foxworth recalled.
County coroner's officials wheeled the body of Montoya, 25, and carried her infant son out of the apartment complex in the 11100 block of South Normandie Avenue by 5 p.m.
Sheriff's investigators distributed a photograph of Rieux, describing him as the suspect wanted in the double slaying. They said he has ties to San Pedro and was possibly suicidal, high on methamphetamine and dangerous.
Neighbors at the couple's Westmont apartment complex had long known that Rieux's and Montoya's marriage was troubled.
"I would tell her, 'Jackie, you need to leave him,'" said 30-year-old Clevette Foxworth, the sister of Keyla Foxworth.
Another neighbor recalled a night a few months ago when a pregnant Montoya was walking outside at 3 a.m., her eyes swollen from crying. Rieux had kicked her out of the house so she was going to sleep at the laundromat, Montoya told her neighbor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation.
In December, Rieux pleaded no contest to one count of domestic violence and was sentenced to a year in jail, according to court records. He was released April 4.