DONALDSONVILLE — Relatives and friends of 15-year-old Brandon Augusta, who hasn’t been seen since Saturday night, were still waiting Friday evening to learn definitively if the body found Thursday on the Mississippi River levee in Donaldsonville is the missing teen.
“A family out there is in great pain,” Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said as he called on the community to help solve the mystery.
While he couldn’t be sure that Augusta is dead, Wiley arrived at the teenager’s home in Donaldsonville on Friday evening to speak with the family. He told family members there are increasing indications the body — a young black male who appeared to have suffered blunt trauma to the head — is their relative.
Sheriff’s Office detectives are treating the case as a homicide. “We think he was killed there” on the levee, Wiley said.
“I have high confidence (the autopsy) will determine the cause of death and any other injuries,” he said.
Due to the condition of the body, the Sheriff’s Office was not able to determine whether there had been gunshot or knife wounds, Wiley said.
The sheriff originally expected autopsy results from the East Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office would be ready by Friday afternoon. But later in the day, the sheriff said it appears positive identification of the body won’t come until Monday.
“We’re expecting to have an absolute identification” at that time, Wiley said. The Sheriff’s Office is waiting on both dental and DNA findings.
Augusta was last seen with a group of friends on Saturday evening, Wiley said, “not far from where the body was found.”
Wiley said a man mowing grass on the levee Thursday afternoon smelled an odor of decay and contacted the Sheriff’s Office.
The body was found about 75 feet to 80 feet from the river, in a pile of driftwood and rocks.
“It’s an easy, short walking distance from the park (in Donaldsonville) and the downtown business district,” Wiley said.
Each day since the teenager was reported missing Sunday has “intensified the concern” that what started as a missing teenager search might end as a criminal case, Wiley said.
“We began early on in this thing, interviewing, advertising (for information) and are continuing (to talk) with his peer group and known associates” to learn “who could have done this,” he said.
Wiley encourages residents to “have their ear to the ground in helping us bring this killer to justice.”
On Friday evening, friends and family were gathered in the home of Augusta’s grandmother, where the teen lived, in Donaldsonville. Family members were not available to talk to the media, a friend of the family said.
Deriyonne Smith, 15, who lives in the same neighborhood, said she’s known Augusta since they were in the second grade together. She and her friends are planning to hold a candlelight vigil for the teen.
“He was a nice person. He never really judged anyone,” she said.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Office at (225) 621-4363, text 847411 or call Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.