Nanette Me’Shell King was likely killed by her estranged boyfriend within hours after she left her job at a gas station near Sun on Sept. 20, according to St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain, who announced Monday that the boyfriend, Gary Harris, and his brother, Ray, have been arrested in connection with King’s death and disappearance.
When King, 42, didn’t return to her home in Bogalusa after leaving work, she was reported missing, touching off an intensive search that turned up nothing.
Three weeks later, however, two women discovered King’s badly burned Mitsubishi Galant in the woods near Sun and notified the Sheriff’s Office. King’s burned body was found inside the car.
The investigation quickly zeroed in on Gary Harris, whose house had been searched after King was reported missing. Detectives spoke several times with Harris and his brother, noting inconsistencies in their accounts, Strain said. On Thursday, Ray Harris admitted that he had helped hide evidence of the killing, Strain said.
Gary Harris, 53, and King had lived together for some 20 years and had a daughter together. But recently, the relationship had become turbulent, and King and the couple’s daughter moved out of the residence near Bush that the couple shared, Strain said.
Detectives believe that Harris lured King to the house to discuss a division of property in their impending breakup and strangled her. Then, he asked Ray Harris, 64, to help him cover up the crime.
“They went to great pains to destroy evidence,” Strain said, adding that the brothers may have done some research on how to best hide evidence of a murder by watching “CSI.”
The brothers took “calculated steps to cover up the crime,” Strain said.
Gary Harris was convicted of aggravated assault in 1997 and has other arrests for aggravated battery, simple battery and simple assault, according to the Clerk of Court’s Office website and Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. George Bonnett.
Ray Harris also has been arrested on counts of aggravated battery and aggravated assault, and he has a conviction for vehicular homicide.
None of the arrests of either brother involved an allegation of domestic violence, and none listed King as the victim, Bonnett said.
Gary Harris has been booked into the St. Tammany Parish Jail on a single count of second-degree murder. He has refused to cooperate with investigators, Strain said, and his bail has been set at $800,000.
Ray Harris — whose role in the crime was limited to helping his brother destroy evidence, Strain said — has been booked on a single count of being an accessory after the fact.
His bail has been set at $100,000.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.