Police: DNA links man to 2013 burglary, rape

An Independence man has been arrested in Kenner after DNA evidence linked him to a December 2013 burglary and rape.

Brandon Watkins, 24, is suspected of breaking into a home in the 200 block of Clemson Place on Dec. 15, 2013, and raping a 28-year-old woman.

The victim underwent a rape exam at Tulane-Lakeside Hospital. Evidence recovered was sent to the Jefferson Parish Crime Laboratory and was matched to Watkins in August, said Sgt. Brian McGregor, a Kenner Police Department spokesman.

At the time of the robbery and rape, Watkins was on parole for simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling but had disappeared after he was released from the custody of the Department of Corrections.

He was found in September at a home in Tangipahoa Parish and was taken into custody on the parole violation. A swab of DNA was obtained to test against the results of the rape exam. The match was made Tuesday, and Watkins was booked on a warrant for aggravated burglary and aggravated rape.

Watkins allegedly confessed to the crime during an interview with Kenner police.

He told detectives that he got into the victim’s home through a back window almost every day for a month without her knowledge.

The night of the rape, Watkins said, he walked into the victim’s bedroom to look for money. When she woke up, he wrestled with her and raped her.

Watkins remained jailed Wednesday. Bail was not immediately set.

Second man identified in West Bank robbery

Jefferson Parish authorities have identified a second suspect in a West Bank robbery and have issued a warrant for his arrest.

Brian Rodas, 22, of Harvey, is wanted in connection with the robbery of a 73-year-old woman Monday inside her home in the Woodmere subdivision.

A 14-year-old boy, Rodas’ suspected accomplice, was previously arrested in the crime.

Several anonymous tips led detectives to identify Rodas as the second suspect.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at (504) 364-5376.

N.O. police seek four in two separate thefts

New Orleans police are asking for the public’s help in identifying two women and two men wanted in separate thefts at a Family Dollar store in Central City.

The most recent theft happened about 6:40 p.m. Saturday at the store in the 2100 block of South Claiborne Avenue.

Two women were seen putting clothing and food into their purses and walking out of the store without paying, police said.

The first theft happened about 7 p.m. Oct. 9. Two men put items worth $200 into baskets and walked out without paying.

Sixth District Detective Martin Smith is in charge of the investigations and can be contacted at (504) 658-6060.

Gunfire wounds two in separate N.O. shootings

Two men were wounded in separate shootings Wednesday in New Orleans.

The first shooting happened a little before 9 a.m. near Interstate 10 and Crowder Boulevard in New Orleans East. The victim was shot in the foot, police said.

Later, a 22-year-old man was shot in the back about 3:30 p.m. near St. Andrew and South Liberty streets in Central City. Police had no information on his condition.

Man sought in shooting at N.O. East home

Police are searching for 57-year-old William Goudy in connection with a shooting in New Orleans East.

Goudy is suspected of shooting a 48-year-old man at his apartment in the 4400 block of Gawain Drive about 7 p.m. Sunday.

Police said Goudy arrived at the victim’s home to collect money the man owed him.

The victim told Goudy he didn’t have the money, and the men began to fight. Goudy then pulled out a gun and allegedly shot the victim in his torso.

One bullet pierced a wall and went into a neighboring apartment’s bedroom.

Anyone with information on Goudy’s whereabouts is asked to contact 7th District detectives at (504) 658-6070.

Kenner man suspected in robbery, beating

A Kenner man is behind bars, accused of beating and robbing a man outside a bank.

The 63-year-old victim was leaving the CapitalOne branch at 1000 W. Esplanade Ave. about 9 a.m. Tuesday when an unknown man walked up and put a gun to his head.

The victim and the man began to fight, and the victim was cut on his left ear after being hit with the gun.

The robber was able to flee in a waiting white van after getting the victim’s money.

Kenner police found the van behind a strip mall at 1001 W. Esplanade Ave. It had a stolen license plate, taken in September from a vehicle in the 3100 block of Phoenix Street, and was registered to Anthony Hicks, 58.

Hicks was found later leaving his home in the 3000 block of Illinois Avenue. He was arrested and booked with armed robbery and aggravated battery, McGregor said.

He remained jailed Wednesday. Bail was not immediately set.

Kenner police continue to try to identify the getaway driver in this incident. Anyone with information about the driver is asked to call Detective Jessica Zuppardo at (504) 712-2410.

Man’s body pulled from lake near West End

New Orleans police on Wednesday recovered the body of a 61-year-old man found floating in the New Basin Canal near the West End area on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

The body was found behind Landry’s Seafood House. No additional information was immediately available.

Police seek person of interest in homicide

New Orleans police are asking for the public’s help in locating a man who might have information about the recent shooting death of a 15-year-old boy.

James “Woo” Brant, 18, is not a suspect in the killing of Corey Martin but someone detectives want to interview, the NOPD said.

Martin was shot about 7 p.m. June 8 in the 1400 block of Bartholomew Street.

DNA evidence linked Brant as a person of interest, police said.

Detective Greg Hamilton is in charge of the investigation and can be reached at (504) 658-5300.

Man pleads guilty to new child porn charges

A New Orleans man who was in a halfway house after a prior conviction for possessing child pornography pleaded guilty Wednesday to new charges of viewing child pornography.

Jeremy Shawn Reason, 34, faces a mandatory prison sentence of at least 10 years and a lifetime of supervised release because of his prior conviction.

Reason was convicted in 2008 of possessing child pornography. He was arrested on the new charges in April 2013 while living at a halfway house.

Slidell man pleads guilty to BP spill fraud

A Slidell man pleaded guilty Wednesday to two charges of wire fraud after he filed a false claim following the BP oil spill.

Casey Thonn, 35, submitted multiple fraudulent claims with the Seafood Compensation Program claiming losses from the April 2010 spill. He collected $1,750 from the program.

On Dec. 3, 2012, he submitted a request that his compensation be recalculated based upon a false federal tax return he provided to the program. In that document, he claimed he received $156,000 of gross revenue from commercial shrimping sales in 2009.

The program then awarded him an additional $355,251.

Thonn faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

Police try to ID man in armed robbery

Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man wanted in an armed robbery Friday in the 1200 block of Dufossat Street.

The 61-year-old victim told police the unknown man walked up to her about 11:40 a.m. as she made her way to the front door of her daughter’s home.

The unknown robber put a pistol to the back of her head and ordered her inside.

Once in the home, the robber took money and jewelry from the victim and ran away.

The unknown robber, depicted in a computer sketch, is described as a black man between 20 and 30 years old, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10 with a medium build.

He was wearing all dark clothing with a navy blue bandana over his face and a black baseball cap.

Anyone with information on his identity is asked to contact 2nd District detectives at (504) 658-6020.

Generator test sparks fire at Canal hotel

Workers testing a generator on the roof of a hotel accidentally set part of the roof on fire Wednesday afternoon.

The fire on the decking of the second-floor mezzanine was reported at the Astor Crowne Plaza, 739 Canal St., about 1:50 p.m.

Hotel staff said the fire began while they were testing a second-floor generator.

A second alarm was called at 2 p.m., and the small fire was under control minutes later, the NOFD said.

No one was injured.

Police search for man missing since Tuesday

Police are trying to find a man missing from his home since Tuesday morning.

Donald Fitzgerald, 48, was last seen about 7 a.m. leaving his home in the 3500 block of Dante Street while on his way to the 1500 block of Louisiana Avenue, police said.

Fitzgerald has a medical condition and is in need of medication. He is a white man, about 6-foot-1 and 260 pounds.

Anyone knowing his whereabouts is asked to contact the NOPD at (504) 821-2222 or Detective Latoya Lamb at (504) 658-6020.