Jefferson Parish law enforcement authorities issued arrest warrants for a missing Vacherie man on charges he attacked three alleged prostitutes in hotels and killed two of them, officials said.
Kylan M. Laurent, 22, jumped from the Veterans Memorial Bridge Tuesday near Gramercy during a high-speed chase with state troopers and apparently fell 165 into the Mississippi River below, authorities have said.
Investigators also have early hints that there could be more victims linked to Laurent, based on a collection of 22 cellphones found in Laurent’s car and in two St. James Parish homes he frequented, parish sheriff’s deputies reported Friday.
The Associated Press reported Saturday Jefferson Parish Sheriff Jewell Normand had contacted authorities in Wichita Falls, Texas, and San Antonio, where they say Laurent served in the military in 2008 and 2009. Kenner police said he is a member of the Louisiana Air National Guard.
State Police spokesman Doug Cain said a case in Baton Rouge started the investigation of Laurent, who had been implicated in several crimes there, including one in which he was charged with aggravated battery and false imprisonment, according to the AP report..
Meanwhile, a multi-agency waterborne search for Laurent was called off early Friday evening as officials gave up hope of finding him through regular maritime traffic, Louisiana State Police reported.
A now-closed grid search for Laurent on the Mississippi, which is a systematic way of checking the surface of the water, had been under way since Tuesday afternoon.
Trooper Russell Graham II, spokesman for State Police Troop A, said the halted search does not mean that Laurent is presumed to be dead.
Edward Nowell, Port of South Louisiana assistant operations director, said the search had stretched from the bridge linking St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes southeast about five miles to the Marathon refinery in Garyville.
He said some parts of the river in that stretch are as deep as 125 feet with colder waters that inhibit a deceased body from rising to the surface. The body could also be caught on underwater debris, he said.
The port had as many as three boats on the water searching for Laurent, Nowell said. He said he thought Laurent’s body would have surfaced, but said crews of tugboats and other maritime vessels are very helpful in spotting bodies.
Two of the woman attacked in Jefferson Parish were killed by strangulation or suffocated. They were Jateese Hudgins, 20, of Philadelphia, in a Metairie La Quinta Inn; and Anita McDonald, 22, of Flowood, Miss., in a Kenner Comfort Suites.
A third woman was choked until she was unconscious in a Harvey motel room, but survived. Each woman was bound. At least two were restrained with tape, according to sheriff’s reports and verbal accounts.
The three victims have criminal histories in or are otherwise suspected of being involved in prostitution, deputies have said. Laurent is believed to have made contact with them through Internet postings, deputies and Kenner police have said.
His connection to the three attacks was established in part through belongings taken from the victims, including cellphones, and recovered from the homes and Laurent’s car, Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies said.
The car was left parked atop the bridge Tuesday.
Deputies said they have determined who owns one of those phones — the Harvey victim — and were trying to see if the 21 other cellphones belong to other unknown victims.
Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway said a phone found in Laurent’s car belonged to McDonald, the Kenner victim.
The phones have been swabbed for DNA. Subpoenas have been issued to cellular providers and warrants issued to download the information from the phones, deputies said.
“We are actively attempting to identify other victims via these efforts,” Col. John Fortunato, sheriff’s spokesman, said in the statement.
In Jefferson Parish, a warrant was issued for first-degree murder and second-degree robbery in the killing of Hudgins on Aug. 10, deputies said.
A second warrant was issued for attempted first-degree murder, second-degree robbery and false imprisonment of the Harvey victim on Aug. 18, deputies said. She has identified Laurent.
In Kenner, a first-degree murder and simple robbery warrant was issued Thursday in the slaying of McDonald on Monday, Caraway has said.