updated 1/25/2006 11:10:37 AM ET 2006-01-25T16:10:37

A New Orleans couple who had been chased from their home by Hurricane Katrina died in an apparent murder-suicide, leaving behind an infant and a 4-year-old boy who had been beaten so severely he couldn’t open his eyes, police said.

Police entered the couple’s rented home in the Atlanta suburb of Austell early Wednesday after a call from a relative in New Orleans.

The woman “said that her nephew had called her and stated that he had an argument with his wife and that she was hurt pretty bad, and in fact she was dead,” said police Chief Bob Starrett.

The boy was found in the same room with his mother.

“He was tied to a chair and had been beaten so bad both of his eyes were completely shut,” Starrett said.

Beaten and tied
The 5-month old girl was uninjured, Starrett said. Both children were to be turned over to the Department of Family and Children’s Services.

“I haven’t seen a child beat up as bad as he was beat up,” Starrett said. “The tragic thing is this 4-year-old boy most likely saw his mother killed and was beaten and tied up right there where his mother was lying in a pool of blood.”

A SWAT team found Jerome Spears, 28, in a back bedroom, dead of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot, Starrett said.

The names of the 24-year-old woman and the children were not immediately released. Starrett said authorities were having difficulty finding the couple’s relatives because so many Louisiana residents scattered after the hurricane.

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