Online commentary and chatter popped up after Kylan M. Laurent’s body was found last week 22 miles downstream from where he jumped into the Mississippi River on Aug. 23.
Laurent, 22, of Vacherie, who is accused of attacks on women that left two dead, leaped from the Veterans Memorial Bridge near Gramercy and fell 165 feet into the Mississippi River to end a high-speed pursuit by Louisiana State Police.
Eight days later, on Aug. 31, his body resurfaced in the river 75 yards from a refinery dock at Norco in St. Charles Parish.
The Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office released findings that Laurent died of blunt force trauma from hitting the water and from drowning, said Capt. Patrick Yoes, spokesman for the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Some online posters remarked immediately after Laurent’s body was discovered that his death saved the taxpayers money.
Commentary of this sort may be emotionally appealing for some, but it ignores that fact that with Laurent dead, gone is the chance for a trial and the added certainty and clarity that court testimony and a jury verdict would provide in getting to the truth of what happened.
Also gone is the chance for Laurent, once captured, to have shed light on what he did or didn’t do.
Laurent is a suspect in two fatal attacks on alleged prostitutes in Jefferson Parish and in another attack in Jefferson in which the woman victim survived after being choked until she passed out. In each of those cases last month, black women were attacked at motels in Metairie, Harvey and the city of Kenner. Arrest warrants subsequently were issued for Laurent in each case.
On Tuesday, authorities released some details to The Advocate about incidents in Baton Rouge to which Laurent may be linked.
On Aug. 4, a woman was severely beaten at the Chase Suites Hotel on Corporate Boulevard in Baton Rouge. The woman had multiple facial bruises and was unable to speak, but survived, a police report says.
Sgt. Don Stone, spokesman for Baton Rouge Police, said that Laurent is a suspect in this attack and that the case is still under investigation.
Also, East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies said Laurent is a person of interest in a second-degree battery case.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks described the battery incident as “a similar type case that occurred at a local motel.”
That’s at least five attacks on people at motels. At least four of them involved black women. Two were killed.
In addition, authorities have said a total of 22 cellphones have been recovered from Laurent’s car atop the Mississippi River bridge as well as from two residences in St. James Parish that he was known to frequent. His car was left on the Veterans Memorial Bridge on Aug. 23.
At least two cellphones belong to known victims in Jefferson and authorities are investigating whether the rest belong to other victims.
What authorities have before them, then, is certainly an interesting pattern but with no one to answer for the crimes except for potential future witnesses and the physical evidence left behind by a dead man.
Being suspected of crimes and getting convicted of crimes are two different things.
Col. John Fortunato, spokesman for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, said that investigators have been going through cellphone records and were trying to find physical evidence to support whether Laurent was at the scene of other crimes.
“That is the direction of our investigation at this point,” he said.
David J. Mitchell covers Ascension Parish government for The Advocate. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.