MADISONVILLE, La. -- After a week of searching, St. Tammany deputies discovered the body of a missing 27-year-old woman from Alabama.
The St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office says Melinda Denny died from multiple stab wounds. Denny was found along a fence line in an open field on Brewster Road in Madisonville.
A last resort effort started early Thursday morning, with more than 150 deputies taking the search for Denny step by step, literally.
The grid search followed days of helicopter sweeps and ATV coverage in a number of areas along I-12, Highways 1077 and 21, as well as Brewster. That effort was successful, but disappointing for Sheriff Jack Strain.
"Now the investigation goes into the next phase,” he said, “And as I said, almost starts all over again where we piece all of the events together and we believe ultimately will lead to the arrest of Mr. Nall."
Jonathon Nall, 34, was the man involved in a standoff with authorities over the weekend. He's also Denny's boyfriend, who was traveling with her to Texas. The incident happened Saturday, hours after the couple was last seen together by a deputy, who found nothing wrong after checking on them per the request of a family member.
But the moment the standoff ended, Strain said, suspicions grew about what could have happened to Denny. He said Nall did cooperate enough to help lead to Thursday's discovery, but the work on the case isn't over.
"This guy did a big show of his apparent mental problems, but now it’s up to the professionals to decide was that a disguise or truly mental incapacity," said Strain.
Authorities said Denny’s family members are in town, but are too distraught to speak about their loss. Eyewitness News reached out to Nall’s family for comment, but got no response.
Nall’s mother told us earlier this week that she was praying for the Denny family and didn’t think the son she knows could do anything to harm her.
Nall is in the St. Tammany Parish Jail facing charges related to the public suicide attempt. The sheriff’s office has not announced any new charges at this time.