Police link St. Gabriel man to burned gay hairdresser’s corpse through victim’s social media account

This story was published in The Advocate on May 6, 2012. 

East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux announced Thursday the arrest of a suspect in the slaying of a Baton

Rouge hairdresser whose burned body was discovered in the trunk of a car abandoned on the Mississippi River levee.

Gautreaux said events leading up to the murder began Sunday evening when the hairdresser, Roderick White, 33, drove himself to a mobile home in St. Gabriel to meet for the first time with Jason Mascarella, 34, a man he had been chatting with online.


The men had met on either Twitter or Facebook, said Todd Morris, a sheriff’s detective and lead investigator on the case. Read more of this post

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After early morning crime spree, robbery suspects arrested

This story was published in The Advocate on April 19, 2012. 

By Adam Lau, The Advocate

Three men were left begging for their lives this week after an armed duo confronted them at gunpoint in separate incidents in the dark, early morning hours outside their Shenandoah homes.

“I was frightened out of my mind,” said Sidney Deloach, 72, who was pistol-whipped and knocked to the ground by the men as he returned home from buying a newspaper about 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

“They both had their guns pointed straight at my head, no more than four or five inches from my head, saying, ‘I’m gonna shoot you,’ ” Deloach said. Read more of this post

Drivers relive fatal moment — Pedestrian deaths leave lingering effects

This story was published on page A1 of The Advocate on March 6, 2012. 

Photo by Libby Isenhower, The Advocate — The Rev. James Cowell says his church congregation has helped him heal since unintentionally killing a man three weeks ago.

The Rev. James Cowell, of Walker, ran over and killed a man with his truck three weeks ago.

While police said the shirtless man dove in front of Cowell’s truck at the last second, thus making the accident unavoidable, Cowell, 46, says he will be haunted by that fateful moment — the eye contact, the screeching brakes, the sight of the dead man’s body under his truck — for the rest of his life.

“The fact of the matter is I basically killed that man,” Cowell said, a week after the Feb. 9 accident. “I can’t describe how it feels other than complete shock and disbelief.”

It is a scenario that plays out twice almost every week in Louisiana: a sober driver usually traveling down a dark highway who doesn’t see the pedestrian until the last second before impact, if at all.

Of the 272 drivers who struck and killed a pedestrian in Louisiana since Jan. 1, 2009, 233 were not issued a citation, according to data compiled by Dr. Helmut Schneider, director of LSU Highway Safety Research Group.

Last year, at least 74 drivers were not at fault in the deaths of the pedestrians they struck with their vehicles, according to Schneider’s data. Read more of this post

New Orleans musician saved from robbers by barking dog

This story was published in The Times-Picayune on December 21, 2011. 

Had it not been for the presence of his cousin’s pit bull, local musician Glen David Andrewswould have been one of the victims robbed at gunpoint outside a Capital One, one of three such armed robberies Monday morning, outside banks in Mid-City, Broadmoor and Gentilly.

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It was 8:45 a.m. Monday when Andrews, his cousin and Blue, a large and rambunctious pit bull, piled into an SUV to go to the Capital One at Canal Street and South Carrollton Avenue.

Andrews, a trombone player, said he was planning to deposit $3,500 from the weekend’s work to divide among his six band members.

Around 8:50 a.m., they pulled up to the bank’s entrance on the corner where about six people, some with deposit slips in their hands, were waiting for the bank to open. Andrews said two people in the group were young men — maybe 20 or 21 — wearing black hooded sweatshirts, standing apart from each other.

As Andrews got out of the passenger side to join the group, Blue began to bark, loudly and incessantly.

A man, walking up to join the bank customers, joked to Andrews: “Hey man, you can’t shut your dog up?” Read more of this post

Suspect in toddler’s shooting arrested, ‘person of interest’ dead, Serpas says

This story was published in The Times-Picayune on December 20, 2011. 

A suspect wanted in the shooting death of a toddler who was playing Sunday afternoon in the B.W. Cooper public housing development has been arrested, and a “person of interest” in the murder was shot to death Monday, New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said Tuesday.

Vigil for Keira Holmes Gordon

U.S. marshals arrested Narkee Hunter, 23, at his Terrytown home on Tuesday, Serpas said.

Police are still looking for another suspect, Terrious Owney, 24, in connection with the same shooting.

Charles Louis Anderson III, 26, whowas shot to death Monday inside a house in St. Roch, had been identified as a “person of interest” in Sunday’s shooting, Serpas said.

The Times-Picayune reported earlier today that detectives believed Anderson’s death on Monday was linked to the double shooting a day earlier, according to law enforcement sources. Read more of this post

Owner of horse that collapsed and died on Bourbon Street has been under investigation

This story was published on page A1 of The Times-Picayune on Dec. 19, 2011. 

The owner of the horse that dropped dead on Bourbon Street Sunday afternoon has been offering buggy rides to tourists in the French Quarter for months. At issue is whether he charges for them.

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The city’s Taxicab Bureau has been investigating Steven Chambers, 51, of New Orleans, after complaints by carriage companies that Chambers, who is unlicensed and uninsured, was operating illegally. The companies also allege Chambers mistreated his horses and did not clean up after them. Read more of this post

French Quarter bar fight victim suffers lingering repercussions from head injuries

This story was published in The Times-Picayune on December 13, 2011. 

Two months ago in the French Quarter, two strangers got in a 30-second bar fight that will forever affect their lives. One now faces the prospect of permanent brain damage and hundreds of thousands in medical bills — without insurance. The other faces arrest for second-degree battery, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

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Their fateful meeting occurred Oct. 16, at the Jax Brewery Bistro Bar in the 600 block of Decatur Street. New Orleans police said Tuesday that Jason Samuel Lawrence, 23, of New Orleans, allegedly placed the 28-year-old victim in a headlock, choked him unconscious, then threw him down a flight of concrete stairs.

Police do not publicly identify crime victims. The victim spoke with The Times-Picayune on condition of anonymity.

“I was very, very fortunate to not have died,” he said. Due to his injuries, he does not remember what happened that night. Read more of this post

Armed robberies near Tulane and Loyola prompt changes in security efforts

This story was published in The Times-Picayune on December 8, 2011. 

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John McCusker, The Times-Picayune

After a recent spike in armed robberies near Tulane University, campus police are doubling the amount of off-campus patrols in the surrounding neighborhoods and changing the way students request a shuttle bus.

Students were victims in four of the area’s seven robberies since Thanksgiving.

So far this semester, at least 23 people have been robbed while walking in the area, 14 of whom were students. Eleven of those students were held up at gunpoint. Read more of this post

That Sinking Feeling: Once-thriving businesses near Avondale Shipyard are now struggling to survive

This article was published in The Times-Picayune on July 24, 2011. 

Darcy Adams can’t believe she used to make enough in tips to go shoe-shopping. She misses those days now.

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With more bills and past-due notices arriving every day, Adams, 49, looks stressed as she lights another cigarette and surveys the bar. It’s happy hour, but with just four men in the place, two poking at billiard balls in the corner and two nursing beers at the bar, the dozens of empty barstools underscore just how dead it really is.

“I can’t sleep at night. I can’t pay my bills. I’m stressing so bad,” said Adams, of Waggaman. “This place used to be packed. Now, I’m lucky if I get 10 customers.”

As the bartender at O’Reilly’s in Bridge City for the past 10 years, Adams is among the hundreds of people in the Avondale Shipyard area who have seen their business plummet in the past year. Since Northrop Grumman announced last July it would close the shipyard by 2013, the yard’s 5,000 workers have been laid off or left to await their fate. The fallout, for the local businesses that rely on their patronage, has been devastating.

“Come 2013, I’ll be 55, unemployed, and unemployable,” said Rob Laborde, 53, who has worked at the shipyard for the past 22 years. “You gotta keep all your money now. You gotta count every dime you got.” Read more of this post

‘Gentilly is open for business’

Published July 18, 2011 in The Times-Picayune.

Gentilly’s 19 neighborhood associations have been waiting for this kind of attention for a long time.

After years of relatively stagnant recovery since Hurricane Katrina in both repopulation and commercial activity, Gentilly is about to become the focus of several groups hoping to jumpstart the economy in the neighborhood.

Capital One and the Urban League of New Orleans have created the “Grow Gentilly” small business plan competition, in which two companies already in business in Gentilly will win cash prizes, along with technical and professional assistance.

The winning business will receive $10,000 with the runner-up to get $5,000, money that Capital One officials describe as “strategic investments,” Gentilly also has the eye of the NOLA Business Alliance, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s new public-private partnership tasked with economic development. The group has identified Gentilly as a high priority area and is developing a strategy to attract large retail centers there.

“We’ve been asking for people out there to invest in Gentilly,” said David Welch, of the Gentilly Community Improvement Association, the umbrella organization over Gentilly’s 19 neighborhood associations. “We’re trying to get the message out that Gentilly is open for business.”

Read more of this post