Kenner police, FBI take over investigation of murder of F.Q. dancer


Posted on April 22, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 22 at 5:15 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

KENNER, La. -- After nearly two years, Mississippi deputies trying to solve the gruesome murder of a 22-year-old woman have ended their investigation.

Kenner police, with the help of the FBI, will now pick up the case.

It was a heinous crime. It is still unsolved. Bourbon Street dancer Jaren Lockhart was last seen leaving a men's club in June 2012, and days later, her body parts, in several pieces, washed ashore in Bay Saint Louis.

Investigators in the Hancock County Sheriff's Office no longer have resources to move forward, according to Kenner police, so they will now take over the case.

"They (Hancock County investigators) don't feel that the murder occurred in Mississippi," said Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway in a press conference Tuesday.

You may remember a Kenner couple, Margaret Sanchez and Terry Speaks, were suspects. They were last seen with Jaren in surveillance video in the French Quarter, but the police nevert issued an arrest warrant in the case.

Speaks, a convicted sex offender, is in federal prison in New York on another charge. He is due to get out in the fall.

Kenner Police say the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's office is fully supportive of this investigation and that the trail is not cold.

"There are things that are being developed fairly regularly. I mean, this isn't something that the information just stopped coming in back in 2012. That's not the case," Caraway said.

But evidence, nearly two years old, still has not been analyzed.

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation had some of the evidence, that is, you know, we've requested through the local field office that examination be expedited. But again, I can't answer questions on what Hancock County did," Caraway answered when a reporter asked why it was taking a long time to complete analysis of the evidence.

John Penny, a criminologist at SUNO, said this is a call to action to solve the case because of its gruesome nature.

"The way and the why and the how and the reason for this being done, begs for a closure," Penny said.

It's closure that police and loved ones hope will come soon.

The New Orleans branch of the FBI released the following statement Tuesday morning in response to Kenner Police Department's press conference on the case:

"In follow-up to Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway's press announcement earlier today, FBI New Orleans confirms that we have been involved in the Lockhart case since its inception, working with the Kenner Police Department and law enforcement from Hancock County, Mississippi. Some of the processing of evidence we have received has been completed and we have shared the results with our partners. More lab examinations of evidence continue as the investigation into the crime continues."