Father of woman found dead in house fire wants second autopsy

The father of a Northshore woman who was found dead in her burned Lacombe home last month has filed a lawsuit to preserve her remains.

COVINGTON -- The father of a Northshore woman who was found dead in her burned Lacombe home last month has filed a lawsuit to preserve her remains.

Dan Watson, father of Nanette Watson Krentel, along with two of her siblings, filed a petition for injunctive relief and a request for a temporary restraining order on Thursday (Aug. 17). A judge has since approved the request for the temporary restraining order and set a hearing regarding the injunction for Wednesday morning. However, late Tuesday, that hearing was canceled following a consent agreement among the parties.

Those parties include Krentel's husband, St. Tammany Fire District No. 12 Chief Steve Krentel, and the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office.

In the filing, Watson details the desire to have a second, independent autopsy performed on his daughter.  Family members are raising money for that effort through a YouCaring.com campaign.

Nanette Krentel's body, and those of her pets, were found July 14 amid the rubble of a large fire that burned her home to the ground. The State Fire Marshal’s Office and the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office have been conducting a tight-lipped investigation into the fire and death ever since.

The petition offers details law enforcement agencies investigating the case have not previously acknowledged publicly, including that Krentel "had been shot in the head prior to the fire, along with her pets who were like her children, prior to the fire."

The petition details one of the reasons for the urgency behind the filing is the belief that the Coroner’s Office “plans to declare the death a suicide, which is quite puzzling to petitioners given the circumstances surrounding the death.”

The lawsuit also said the reason for the requested court action is due to the Coroner’s Office and Steve Krentel being “less than fully cooperative with petitioners, who are blood relatives of Nanette Krentel and not forthcoming regarding the circumstances surrounding Nanette Krentel’s death.”

St. Tammany Coroner Charles Preston told Eyewitness News in a statement that his office has cooperated with the family, but "this is still an on-going investigation, so we cannot release information. We also believe this legal action is unnecessary, since Steve Krentel has no objection to a second autopsy, and neither do we.”

For the first time since his wife's death, Steve Krentel offered a public statement.  He told Eyewitness News, "I am not opposed to and have not ever had a problem with a second autopsy. All they had to do was pick up the phone and ask."  He said, "I welcome anything that will bring answers."

While the State Fire Marshal's Office declined to comment, the St. Tammany Sheriff's Office defended both the Coroner's Office and Steve Krentel.

A spokeswoman said in a statement, "The STPSO and the Coroner's Office have been working together on this case since its inception.  The Coroner's Office has been fully cooperative with the Sheriff's Office, as has the Sheriff's Office with the Coroner's Office. Up to this point, Steve Krentel has been cooperative with Sheriff's Office investigators and has indicated to investigators that he welcomes an independent, second autopsy and would consent to such."

The court action is being brought now since Krentel's remains were released from the LSU FACES Lab, where it was sent for further analysis, per the Coroner's Office-- another detail not revealed by investigators before now.  The final report from the FACES Lab is not in yet.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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