NEW ORLEANS - On Friday a team of divers, deputies and officers from multiple agencies took to the water one last time to search for the body of Kenneth Joseph. The 34-year-old man and his wife, 29-year-old Lakeitha Joseph, went missing from their home in Reserve nearly a month ago. The minivan in which they were traveling was found abandoned in College Park, Georgia.
Monday, Lakeitha Joseph's body was recovered from the Intracoastal Waterway in New Orleans East. Equipped with sonar technology, the team on Friday launched from Bayou Bienvenue and focused on an area roughly eight square miles from the location where the wife's body was found.
"The wind direction and everything is what has us here right now. Today we're going to be concentrating under the barges and all up into this deeper water," said Captain Jimmy Scott as he looked over an area near the Michoud Slip.
Scott is head of the New Orleans Police tactical boat operations. It's assisting investigators in St. John Parish, where Joseph and his wife had lived. The commingling of the agencies like the NOPD, St. John Sheriff's Office, the St. Bernard Sheriff's Office, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services allows for the sharing of resources such as the sonar equipment. In some sections of the Michoud Slip, depths can reach up to 40 feet with massive barges floating above. The sonar paints a three dimensional underwater picture for searchers.
"We can basically look and see the structures underneath the water and hopefully if things will work out for us, we'll be able to see if we have a body or something else underwater," said Lt. Chip Wale.
The lieutenant is with the St. John Parish Sheriff's office, which has been investigating the case since the couple went missing. Wale said while they've managed to bring the Joseph family some comfort in finding Lakeitha Joseph’s body, the job is unfinished until the Kenneth Joseph is located. Every member of the search team set out with hopes of finding some trace of the missing. While their efforts were focused on and under the water in New Orleans East, they remained grounded in reality.
"He may not even be out here. We certainly don't know that. We're going off of what we have, we want to make sure we leave no stone unturned," said Lt. Wale.
In waters that can stretch miles in every direction and also into vast marshland, simply finding the stones to look under is difficult. For now, the investigative work will be back on land until more evidence surfaces.