Missing Northshore man's car now connected to New Orleans murder

Ashley Rodrigue talks about how a car found connected to a missing Pearl River man has also been linked to a New Orleans murder.

NEW ORLEANS-  Kelvin Stevenson's mother and sister can't forget the last time they saw the 26-year-old, sitting in his car just a few blocks from the family home in the Milan neighborhood.

"He said, 'I'm coming. I'm gonna get me a cigarette or something and I'm coming home,'" said LaShonda Stevenson, recalling the story from her mother, "And probably about 10 or 15 minutes later, they heard gunshots."

The shots came from the corner of Peniston and Freret just before 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 12, where New Orleans Police found Stevenson shot, still sitting in his vehicle.  He later died at the hospital.

Almost a week later, NOPD confirmed a suspect vehicle in Stevenson's murder case-- a red Rav-4. 

It's the same car that belonged to 58-year-old Gerald Oster, Jr. of Pearl River, who hadn't been seen by his family since March 18.  It was later discovered that Oster's body had been at the Orleans Coroner's Office since March 22.  His family was told an autopsy showed he died of natural causes, with drugs as a potential contributing factor.

Oster's car, on the other hand, was found in the 7th Ward, also on the night of April 12, with several bullet holes shot from the inside of the vehicle and several shell casings inside the vehicle.  When Pearl River detectives were contacted to come get the damaged car, as part of their investigation into Oster's disappearance, they told NOPD to keep it as possible evidence in another crime. Pearl River Police Chief J.J. Jennings said the NOPD declined, so his agency preserved it for them anyway.

The NOPD originally told Pearl River they had no interest in Oster's car for two reasons; The first was that the vehicle did not match any current crimes they were working. The problem was that homicide detectives were still on the scene of Stevenson's murder at the time the 5th District declined to process the car.

The NOPD re-engaged with the vehicle after Eyewitness News brought Pearl River's concerns about the car to agency administrators.  Four days later, they made the connection to Stevenson's case.

Stevenson's family said they're not surprised a key piece of evidence was almost allowed to slip away.

"I'm pretty sure it's been going on, but I never really paid attention to it like I am now, because it's inside my home, my mom's home," said Stevenson, "So I feel like if they have any type of evidence on anybody's case, not just my brother's, anybody's, they need to do what they have to do to solve it."

Pearl River Police say they're not only glad their hunch paid off, but that NOPD is working to right this wrong and they're both working together to get justice for Stevenson.

Stevenson's funeral is being held on Saturday.  If you have any information about his murder, call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.
 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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