The parents of a young man killed in a New Year’s Day hit-and-run in the French Quarter stood before a bank of television cameras Friday and pleaded again for the perpetrator to come forward.
Mark and Caren Woodruff arrived in New Orleans on Wednesday from their home in Omaha, Nebraska, where their son Joshua grew up before going on to attend Harvard University and work for a Los Angeles start-up. In town to celebrate the new year with friends, he was killed waiting for an Uber driver on Decatur Street and then dragged several miles.
The Woodruffs say they have forgiven whoever hit their son but want to see justice done.
“The only way you’re going to get help is if you turn yourself in. We want to see this be redemptive for that killer as well,” Woodruff’s father said. “You need that cleansing of your conscience.”
Authorities said media attention has generated plenty of tips but, so far, no conclusive evidence about who might have killed Joshua Woodruff.
NOPD Traffic Lt. Anthony “Buddy” Micheu said investigators have used surveillance video to track the movement of the car that hit Woodruff both backward and forward from the point of impact. They have scoured dashboard cameras from taxis in the area and identified Uber rides and other for-hire vehicles that were nearby.
“We have a lot of video — a lot of good video — but nothing indicating a specific (license) plate,” Micheu said.
So far, police are only “somewhat confident” the car that hit Woodruff was a Toyota made between 2010 and 2013, Micheu said. Police have previously said that the car was dark-colored with tinted windows.
They also released the route they believe it took from the French Quarter, over the Crescent City Connection, to the West Bank Expressway just before the Gen. de Gaulle Drive off-ramp, where Woodruff’s body was found.
Mark Woodruff said investigators know from surveillance video that pedestrians watched as his son was hit by the car. He urged anyone who saw the impact to come forward, even if they are unsure whether they have any relevant information.
Caren Woodruff thanked New Orleanians for the condolences they have offered the family since her son’s death.
“We’ve received a lot of messages on Facebook and letters in the mail,” she said. “And I want to thank you for being with us in this unbelievable, unbelievable, horrible situation.”
Police Superintendent Michael Harrison also asked residents to come forward with tips.
“In New Orleans, we’re one big family,” Harrison said. “We are as committed on day 20 as we are on day 1. … We will never give up.”
Crimestoppers is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person responsible for the hit-and-run. Their tip line can be reached at (504) 822-1111. Police said anyone with information also may call Fatality Investigator Anthony Pontiff at (504) 658-6237.