DNA identifies homicide victim found in Lake Pontchartrain as missing elderly New Orleans woman _lowres

DNA identifies homicide victim found in Lake Pontchartrain as missing, elderly New Orleans woman, Estelle Webb.

The last time Estelle Webb, an 88-year-old New Orleans woman, was seen alive was in late April in the yard of her home on Heaton Street near Interstate 10 and the New Orleans Country Club.

On May 4, Webb’s body was found floating in Lake Pontchartrain near the Bonnet Carre Spillway, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed Tuesday.

Investigators quickly concluded that Webb had been the victim of a homicide, and they are now trying to figure out who killed her — and why.

Detectives confirmed the body was Webb’s by matching its DNA to genetic material taken from Webb’s personal effects, according to Capt. Patrick Yoes, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Yoes said the case is being investigated primarily by the New Orleans Police Department.

Audrey Webb, Estelle’s niece, said she was told conclusively Tuesday that her aunt was the missing woman found in the lake. She said authorities told her that her aunt had been hit in the head and stabbed. “That’s a horrible death for anybody to die,” she said.

She recalled that one of her aunt’s neighbors last saw her in her yard on the morning of April 28. Calls to her aunt went unanswered after that.

Relatives finally reported Estelle Webb missing on May 6.

Police who entered her house that night found what they told Audrey Webb was a “crime scene,” and the family has not been allowed inside since.

The Police Department then issued a news release asking for help in finding Webb and her car, a 2008 Pontiac G5. Investigators said they also were looking for a woman they described as a “person of interest” in Webb’s disappearance, 27-year-old Lovezella Bartholomew.

“Police believe Bartholomew may be driving with Webb in Webb’s vehicle and that Webb could possibly have been harmed or injured in this incident,” police said at the time.

Bartholomew was Webb’s tenant of several months at her residence, her niece said.

Police did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday on whether Bartholomew is still being treated as a person of interest in Webb’s disappearance, and they have announced no arrests in the case.

Audrey Webb said her aunt had been completely independent despite getting older. “She did everything for herself,” she said. “She drove. She made her groceries. She cooked. She paid all her bills. She didn’t depend on nobody.”

What had always made her niece nervous, though, was how trusting her aunt could be with her tenants.

“I guess she felt like nobody would hurt her because she was old,” Audrey Webb said. “But you can’t trust people.”