NOPD reopens 1983 cold case profiled by Eyewitness News

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wwltv.com

Posted on November 20, 2013 at 11:49 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 21 at 11:45 AM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- A young mother was brutally murdered in her Irish Channel home, and the only suspect was her estranged husband who was never convicted.

It's a homicide case dating back decades and one we introduced you to back in September, when Juan Toledo was arrested after dozens of dead dogs were found in his freezer.

Since our story aired, the NOPD's Cold Case unit has reopened the case.

"When they rolled her out of that house on that stretcher with her body covered, I will never forget that as long as I live," said Todd Gagnard.

As a 10-year-old boy, Gagnard watched as his family was forced to endure the agony of his godmother's murder. The memory is forever etched in Gagnard's memory.

The date was May 6, 1983 when Andre Foret Toledo was brutally murdered in her Irish Channel home. According to an Orleans Parish coroner's report, the 23-year-old died from strangulation and stab wounds. The only suspect at the time was Juan Toledo -- her estranged husband.

Police records show his brother told detectives Juan had tried to hire him to kill his wife in the past. The case was taken to a grand jury, but Toledo was never convicted.

Now, 33 years later, police have a breakthrough in the case.

"After the first story aired NOPD Cold Case detectives contacted me and the case was reopened," said Gagnard.

Now a police officer, Gagnard says DNA evidence has changed.

"There may be a possibility that they might find something on this evidence. I'm praying," said Gagnard.

The NOPD confirms evidence in Andre's case was found in its archives. Her family says it's now being processed by the State Crime Lab.

"When you can find that piece of evidence, you go, this might have a shot. We get it tested and see if there's anything to it," said Sgt. Daniel McMullen, NOPD's Cold Case Unit commander.

Four detectives are assigned to NOPD's Cold Case Unit. McMullen said the oldest case dates back to 1917.

The 22-year-veteran detective says the key to solving sometimes decades-old cases is tracking down witnesses and evidence.

Advances in technology are also leading to major breakthroughs.

"When I started doing this 15 or 16 years ago, you needed a pool of blood in order to get a DNA profile. Now if you drink out of this cup, trace evidence or touch it, the advancements in DNA technology," McMullen said.

"The loved ones that we've lost will never see justice prevail, and those are the ones that I feel really sorry for," said Gagnard.

It's renewed hope for Gagnard and his family while NOPD's Cold Case Unit takes a closer look at the grizzly slaying of Andre, the young mother who 30 years later hasn't been forgotten.

"We're not going to give up until someone is arrested and the case is closed," Gagnard said.

Once NOPD's Cold Case unit wraps up its investigations they're forwarded to the district attorney.

At last check, the St. Bernard District Attorney's Office still hadn't filed charges in the animal cruelty case against Juan Toledo. He is now out on bond.

 

 

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