Police said Monday that they are seeking a New Orleans man whose wife runs a New Orleans East dance studio as a “person of interest” who may have information about the June death of Kaylan Ward, 16, on Interstate 10 near Bullard Avenue. However, the man told The New Orleans Advocate that he has no information to offer them.
Officer Juan Barnes said Kwan Allen, 46, is being sought as a person of interest, not a suspect, who may have “critical information” about the death of the New Orleans East teenager in the early morning hours of June 4 on the Interstate 10 bridge at Bullard Avenue.
Ward’s body was found on the right shoulder of the road about 6:40 a.m. Traffic and homicide investigators are jointly investigating her death, which remains unclassified.
Reached by phone Monday evening, Allen said police had not told him they were looking for him and that he did not have any information about the death of Ward, who was a student in his wife’s Studio G.
“The night she was killed, the day before she was killed, I have alibis. I was never by myself; I was at home with my family,” Allen said. “I didn’t know I was a person of interest until you contacted me. I have no reason not to talk to them or run from them.”
Allen said he has remained in New Orleans since Ward’s death. He said that the night before Ward was found dead, he went out to Legacy Kitchen and Sidelines Bar & Grill in Metairie, then returned home.
“I have witnesses where I was that night,” he said.
Allen said he knew the girl from his wife’s studio but had not had any contact with her for months before her death. About the time Ward went missing, he said, he was in contact with her mother, Kenisha Martin-Nelson, arguing about why she had not let him pick her daughter up and drive her home.
The last time Ward was seen, she was walking riverbound on Earhart Boulevard near Magnolia Street in Central City about midnight, police said. She was trying to get a ride to North Miro Street.
“At the time this child was being murdered supposedly, me and her (mother) was on the phone about why she didn’t let me pick her up,” Allen said.
Martin-Nelson said her daughter was a friend of Allen’s daughter and stepdaughter from the dance studio. The Monday she found out her child had died on the interstate, she said, Allen came to her home and tried to speak with her in private, but her sister intervened.
“He said he needed to talk to me by myself, and my sister told him no,” Martin-Nelson said. She added that she had been hearing stories that Allen gave her daughter money and was secretly picking her up, a claim that Allen denied.
Ward’s death was initially treated by police as a traffic fatality. Police Superintendent Michael Harrison announced a week later that he was adding a homicide detective to the case, but police have not said they believe Ward was murdered.
Allen first said in the phone interview that he would speak to police without an attorney, then said he was going to consult an attorney.
Martin-Nelson urged Allen to go to authorities.
“Yes, we buried her, but we still don’t know what happened to her,” she said.