DNA links man to kidnapping, rape and murder in New Orleans East, police say _lowres

Dontel Kennedy

A man already in jail on a charge of stealing a motorbike has been rebooked in connection with a shocking sequence of kidnapping, murder and rape in New Orleans East in early May.

Police have said DNA connects Dontel Kennedy, 21, to the rape of a woman in the early morning hours of May 3, as well as the robbery and killing of Joseph Kyle, 45, inside his home on Chef Menteur Highway.

Kennedy was booked on first-degree murder, and a judge ordered him held without bail on Monday.

Police said an alleged accomplice has not been arrested.

Kennedy’s crime spree began with a kidnapping about midnight on May 3, Detective Bruce Brueggeman wrote in an arrest warrant. As a woman walked down Crowder Boulevard in New Orleans East, Kennedy and another, unnamed man rolled up in a dark-colored vehicle and asked her if she had a pimp, the warrant said.

When the woman said no, Kennedy pulled out a chrome, semi-automatic pistol and put it to her forehead, forcing her into the back seat of the vehicle, police said. Inside the vehicle, he is accused of striking her on the forehead with the pistol.

At this point, an apparently fatal coincidence occurred: Kyle called and texted the woman in an attempt to arrange a meeting with her at Lucky’s Lounge, a bar at 8301 Chef Menteur Highway.

Trapped inside the car, the woman never showed up, so Kyle left the bar and walked to his home at 7801 Chef Menteur Highway. Police said Kennedy and the other man followed him.

The woman told police that Kennedy and the other man pulled up at the rear of Kyle’s house, where they robbed him and forced him into the house at gunpoint.

Several minutes passed, and then the woman heard five or six gunshots, she said. The men who had kidnapped her ran out of the house and jumped into the vehicle, she said.

As the night continued, police wrote, the unnamed woman was driven around New Orleans and finally taken to a house off Michoud Boulevard in New Orleans East. The address listed on Kennedy’s arrest register, on Red Maple Drive, is also off Michoud Boulevard.

Inside the house, the woman said, Kennedy raped her several times.

The warrant does not state how, but the woman was able to make it to the Interim LSU Hospital. A sex crimes detective collected samples of her assailant’s DNA. Two weeks later, the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab notified the NOPD that the DNA was a match for Kennedy, who had pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and theft in 2013.

Police put together a lineup, according to the warrant, and the victim “made a positive identification on Dontel Kerry Kennedy as the perpetrator to her kidnapping, rape and robbery of victim Joseph Kyle that led to his shooting death.”

Well before Brueggeman obtained a warrant Friday for Kennedy’s arrest on the murder count, state troopers patrolling a stretch of Chef Menteur Highway in Gentilly had taken Kennedy into custody July 7 after he was spotted riding a reportedly stolen motorbike.

Trooper Thomas Bellue wrote in an arrest report that he and another trooper were on patrol near Chef Menteur and Desire Street about 7:20 p.m. when they saw a man riding a red Honda CRF 100 dirtbike without a helmet. When the troopers tried to pull him over, Bellue said, the man tossed away a handgun and fled on foot.

The troopers were able to apprehend Kennedy in a Winn-Dixie parking lot after a short chase. Police said the bike, which was worth about $1,500, had been reported stolen.

After that arrest, Kennedy was booked on counts of resisting an officer, possession of a firearm by a felon and illegal possession of stolen things. An arrest register lists Kennedy’s occupation as a student, although it was not clear where. The Capital Defense Project has been appointed to represent him.