Dead woman found

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 1, 2008


Staff Reporter

RESERVE – While cutting grass along the railroad tracks near NW 4th Street Thursday, a St. John Parish employee came across the body of a female hanging in the trees.

Lonnie Ellis, a St. John public works employee, said he made the grizzly discovery around 1:15 p.m., while riding his tractor along the tree line between the tracks. He said she was hanging from a rope, possibly a noose, just within the trees. 

Authorities with the St. John Sheriff’s Office described the body as that of a white female, but could not give any further information because the body had been there too long. Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Mike Tregre said an autopsy report was pending as of Friday.

Tregre said the Sheriff’s Office could not confirm nor deny the possibility that the body is that of a 37-year-old Paula Chenier, a Reserve woman who has been missing for over a month.

Friends of Chenier said she was last seen exiting the In-and-Out Convenience Store in Reserve around 10:30 p.m. on April 3. They said Chenier suffers from seizures and high blood pressure. She had no medication, or anything else in her possession when she was last seen.

“We just want to see an end to all this,” said Angela Comeaux, a longtime friend of Chenier. “We were hoping to get a possible answer today.”

Comeaux said Chenier lived in a trailer on W 17th Street with her boyfriend. She said a statewide missing persons report had been issued, but nothing had turned up.

The body found Thursday is the third female body to be found in St. John Parish in the past month. Employees with the Port of South Louisiana reported the discovery of a female body, possibly that of a missing St. James woman, floating in the Mississippi River on April 7. Two days later on April 9, LaPlace firefighters tackling a brush fire near trailer homes on Medallion court found the badly burned body of a female, later identified as Tiffany Blythe, under a burned out mattress. None of the incidents appear to be related.

Anyone with any information regarding Thursday’s discovery is asked to contact the St. John Sheriff’s Office at 985-652-9513.