FBI to expedite Lockhart forensics
By Geoff Belcher
May 10, 2013, 18:50
Hancock County Sheriff's investigators on Thursday met with representatives from the FBI in an effort to expedite the probe into the murder of 22-year-old Jaren Lockhart, whose dismembered torso washed up on the beach on Bay St. Louis last June.
"We had a meeting with the FBI yesterday and ... they assured us they would do what's in their power to help us move this along," Hancock Chief Deputy Don Bass said Friday. "We talked about the evidence we're still lacking, the results of the forensics investigation that were sent to the FBI's laboratory last year. They promised they'll move that along."
Lockhart's remains began washing up on the beach in Bay St. Louis in pieces on June 7, 2012, just days after she had disappeared from Temptations gentleman's club, where she worked on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
Kenner residents Terry Christopher Speaks, 39, and his girlfriend Margaret Sanchez, 28, were captured on video surveillance footage leaving the club with Lockhart, and were apparently the last people to see her alive.
They were arrested in Loranger, La. on June 12.
After an exhaustive search of the suspects' home and automobile, all of the evidence retrieved was sent to the FBI for examination and so far, investigators say, hasn't been returned. Murder charges have never been filed in the case.
Speaks was initially held on a charge failure to register as a sex offender and was extradited back to Surry County, N.C. in July. A federal judge in North Carolina in December sentenced him to two years and eight months in prison on that charge.
Sanchez was held at the Tangipahoa Parish jail until Aug. 10, when she was released because a prosecutor determined she could not be held on her initial charge of harboring a sex offender.
Since then, the investigation has languished with the evidence, unexamined, in the FBI"s hands.
Last month, Hancock investigators met with District Attorney Joel Smith to see if they could charge the suspects with desecration of a corpse in order to get the case moving again.
However, Bass said Friday, Mississippi's definition of that charge does not quite fit the circumstances in the Lockhart case.
"It does not appear that state laws here would cover it.," he said. "It doesn't fall under the criteria of that law."
However, he said, with the FBI's help, the investigation should get back on track quickly.
"We feel confident we'll get some it rolling soon," Bass said.