BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss.-- Crews working on a beach renourishment project came across a gruesome sight on Thursday evening: a torso belonging to a Caucasian female, along the beach in Bay St. Louis.
"She was dismembered and decapitated. Apparently, the body washed ashore from an unknown location," said Chief Deputy Don Bass of the Hancock County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators said the torso had several distinct body piercings. At first, they would not say if the torso had any tattoos, but later admitted there were.
"We're working with the tattoos, to see if we can determine, if that helps us eliminate, if we come across anything that's similar and we feel it meets all the criteria or characteristics that we're looking for," said Sheriff's Investigator Glen Grannan.
Hancock County Coroner Jim Faulk tells Eyewitness News that preliminary information shows the torso may belong to a woman who went missing from New Orleans on Tuesday.
New Orleans Police said 22-year-old Jaren Lockhart was last seen by her boyfriend around 8 p.m in the 2400 block of Tulane Avenue. He said she took a cab to her job in the 300 block of Bourbon Street, but began to worry when he couldn't reach her. She hasn't been seen since.
Investigators said the movement of the current, from west to east, could have carried the remains from the New Orleans area to Bay St. Louis, within that time frame.
"We had a strong range and probably moved the tides somewhere around four knots," Grannan said. "So, it could have moved that torso very far in 24 hours, 36 hours."
Residents, who live near where the remains were found, said they were shocked by the discovery.
"It was unbelievable that they found part of a torso there," said Lorraine, who asked that her last name not be used. "You could go any place over here on the beach and just lay your blanket down and just enjoy it, you know. Something like that you know, it's like, ' huh?'- It's very unexpected."
The Hancock County Sheriff's Office sent investigators to New Orleans in this case. The coroner said a positive identification is pending DNA test results. Those are expected next week.