GONZALES?— Before Brian Tumas got into his car to head to work early Friday morning, something happened that left the 44-year-old? "beaten to death" just yards from his home in this city’s quiet and affluent Pelican Point neighborhood, his mother said.
What exactly happened to Tumas, who authorities say was found on Courtyard Drive around 4:45 a.m. with "trauma to the body," remained a mystery Saturday and left his family and investigators searching for answers.
Tumas was headed to his shift with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development where he worked as an inspector of asphalt and concrete, a role that often pulled him from bed before sunrise.
The night before the attack, his parents?— with whom he lived?— said their son was in bed, watching TV about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, the time they retired to their own bedroom, just steps from his. His parents believe Tumas left the house for work about 4 a.m. About an hour later, at 5:15 a.m., Tumas' father answered a knock on the door from officials alerting him that his son was in the hospital.
Twelve hours later, Tumas was dead.
"I don’t know what kind of animal would ever do this to a person," Tumas' mother, Sheila Tumas said. “Whoever beat him, they beat him to death.”
Brian Tumas' father said that when he arrived at the hospital Friday morning, his son was completely battered: missing his teeth, eyes like two plums, lips torn open and his head badly swollen.
“To see your loved one, their son, my baby brother, lying in a bed with tubes and his head so enlarged, no teeth ... He looked disfigured, he didn’t look like my brother," said Michelle Tumas, the victim’s sister who also lives in the Gonzales area. "I will never be the same.”
In the next hours, Brian Tumas' condition deteriorated. Doctors told the family his brain had stopped functioning, and soon after, he died.
The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office had little information on the death Saturday. Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Allison Hudson said deputies found Tumas severely injured near his residence on Courtyard Drive about 4:45 a.m. Friday. She said they are waiting on his autopsy to make any official determinations about his cause of death and if it will be considered a homicide.
However, she confirmed no valuables were stolen from Tumas in the incident.
Hudson said they continue to investigate the incident and are seeking any information about the incident from the public. She said they have no suspects in the incident as of Saturday evening.
“I just want to know who these animals are who did this, and I want justice," Sheila Tumas said. "I do want justice for Brian."
The Tumas family described the 44-year-old as a private, quiet person who was very smart. They said he loved computers and the Marines?— a group he wasn't ever able to join because of an injury from a serious motorcycle crash when he was younger.
They said he was a perfectionist who helped take care of the house and enjoying hunting and fishing with his dad. He was the youngest of three siblings and had lived in Gonzales with his parents for the last seven years. He never married or had kids, but was close with the family he had.
"This is something different here," Sheila Tumas said.
“He wasn’t a gambler, he didn’t do drugs and he didn’t hang around with bad people," John Tumas said. He said he has no idea who might have done this to his son, or why, but he plans to put up a reward through the Sheriff's Office for anyone with information about what happened.
The Tumas family said after this death, they plan to move away from Gonzales.
“I’ve never felt afraid (here, but now) I don’t feel safe at all," Sheila Tumas said. "Not when somebody can come in and beat someone to death right in front of my house.”
They plan to move as soon as possible to Texas, where their older son lives.
Hudson asked that anyone with information to please contact the APSO at 225-621-4636 or text to its anonymous tip line at 847411. She said those with information may also contact Baton Rouge Crime Stoppers at 235-344-7868.