Answers scarce after woman found dead from gunshot wound in Lacombe housefire

Answers still vague in suspicious northshore fire death

ST. TAMMANY PARISH --  The suspicious death of a fire chief's wife continues to grip the community that loved her.

Mourners are now not only devastated by Nanette Krentel's death, but determined to get answers.

While the leaders of the two agencies working to find out what happened to Krentel are still not giving much information, they are addressing claims of missteps in and mishandling of the case.

Just when friends and loved ones were coming to terms with the tragic death of 49-year-old Nanette Krentel, they were hit with another punch to the gut.

"I had a funny feeling from the beginning," said Melissa Serpas. "Something just didn't seem right to me, but the timing was heartbreaking. It was just very, very sad."

The news that Krentel died from a gunshot wound, not the intense blaze that burned her Lacombe home to the ground, came during her memorial service Friday.

MORE: North shore woman found in burned home died of gunshot wound, autopsy finds

St. Tammany Sheriff Randy Smith says information about the cause of death, which his office is investigating, had been leaked by a Baton Rouge website that day, leaving him no choice but to reveal it to the public officially.  But he says his office believed the service was already over and that the family already knew about the development.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to them," Smith said. "From what we understood, there was some information released to them from the State Fire Marshal's Board about the information that was on the website out of Baton Rouge. I apologize for not giving them the heads up before they got the information from the media."

That leak also called into question the quality of the investigation, in particular, the State Fire Marshal's Office work to determine the cause of the fire.

Fire Marshal Butch Browning, who was on the scene of the fire two Fridays ago, says his agency is doing everything right, which only operates on fact, and will not be distracted from that by a website.

Though no one has confirmed the fire as arson, or the death as a murder, investigators are asking the public for information.

And loved ones are turning up the heat too.

"I know if it was reversed, if it was one of Nanette's friends that this happened to, Nanette would not let it go," Serpas said. "She would be the first one trying to get answers."

Browning says he is looking into whether the supposed website leak came from his office, and if so, appropriate action will be taken.  But Browning says the top priority is getting answers for the Krentel family, which he hopes chemical lab results, being tested now, will provide soon.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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