ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — Five years ago, the wife of a Northshore fire chief, Nanette Krentel, was found shot and the Lacombe home they shared burned down around her.
On the somber anniversary of her homicide Thursday, friends and loved ones gathered at Krentel’s final resting place to honor her memory.
“I do this because she was one of the best people that I have ever known. And I know that if roles were reversed in something like this that happened to me, she would be like a dog with a bone and she would not let it go. And I am trying to honor her in doing the same,” Lori Rando, a longtime friend of Krentel’s, who traveled from Texas to attend, said.
After the group prayed for Krentel, they headed to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office for a remembrance that was as much of a protest as it was a vigil with the mystery of who killed Krentel ever-present in their hearts and minds.
“I assumed that very shortly after there would be an arrest and we'd be making progress. But five years later, with technology and forensics today, it's hard to believe that we still don't have answers,” Melissa Serpas, a high school friend of Nanette’s, said.
Family members started raising concerns about how the investigation into her death was being handled in the days following.
They have continued to push for justice for Krentel since. WWL-TV chronicled those concerns in an Emmy-Award-winning investigative special “Mystery in Ashes: the Nanette Krentel Story” and in the podcast “Beyond Bardstown: Lacombe”.
Krentel’s father, Dan Watson, was one of the most persistent advocates for a more thorough investigation to try to find her killer.
“This is the statement she always made: so long as I have my guns and the cameras and I’m at home, I’m safe,” Watson told WWL-TV in an interview in 2019.
But she wasn’t safe. And when St Tammany Sheriff’s investigators told Watson they suspected Krentel had committed suicide, Watson said he lost confidence in their investigation.
Krentel's family hired their own experts to help try and crack the case, but so far their efforts have come up empty.
Her sister, Kim Watson, said she’s disappointed that 'not much seems to be happening with her case.' It’s a sentiment echoed by everyone in attendance at the vigil.
“We need to find justice for her so that she can finally, truly rest in peace,” Rando said Thursday.
But the investigation into Krentel’s death is not over, even though the St Tammany Sheriff appears to have stepped aside from it when District Attorney Warren Montgomery subpoenaed all the Sheriff’s Krentel case records.
Krentel’s family members said Montgomery’s investigators have spoken with them as recently as May. They said that brings hope that they will one day find the killer.
“We unfortunately lost her dad back in October. And it breaks my heart. It breaks all of our hearts that he wasn't, he wouldn't be alive to see justice served. And he deserved to see that in his lifetime,” Rando said.