Body of Vacherie bridge jumper recovered

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 3, 2011



NORCO – Law enforcement officials say a body pulled from the Mississippi River in Norco Wednesday morning is that of Kylan Laurent, a Vacherie man who jumped into the river from the Veterans Memorial Bridge in St. James Parish after a high-speed chase with State Police more than a week ago.

Laurent, 22, was wanted in connection with two Jefferson Parish murder investigations and is also a suspect in several crimes in Baton Rouge. Although the body was badly decomposed, St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Pat Yoes said multiple tattoos on the body are consistent with those Laurent was known to have. He was also later identified by fingerprints.

Yoes said Valero St. Charles Refinery employees working on the refinery’s dock ramp spotted the body floating in the river about 75 yards from the dock at 8:19 a.m. Wednesday. He said Valero security employees, with help from the Port of South Louisiana, secured the body and removed it from the water shortly after 10 a.m.

Detectives from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and State Police troopers were at the scene to tentatively identify the man as Laurent, who is wanted in connection with two separate murders in different hotel rooms in Jefferson Parish and is also accused of assault on another woman in a Harvey hotel room. The body was transported to the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office, where an autopsy was performed Wednesday. Cause of death was determined to be drowning and blunt force trauma.

Laurent has been missing since Aug. 23, when he jumped from the bridge after leading State Police on a high-speed chase through St. James Parish. Troopers were trying to make a traffic stop on Laurent on River Road in connection with aggravated battery and false imprisonment charges in Baton Rouge before he sped away from the scene toward the bridge.

Troopers pursued Laurent’s vehicle until it reached the top of the bridge. At that point, the vehicle pulled to the side of the bridge, and Laurent exited and jumped over the guardrail into the water. Various law enforcement officials spent about four days searching the river for Laurent. The Valero dock is about 15 miles downriver from the bridge.

Kenner Police said Laurent was wanted in connection with the Aug. 22 slaying of Anita McDonald, 22, who was found dead inside a room at the Comfort Suites in Kenner. Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s investigators said Laurent was wanted for the murder of Jateese Hudgins at the LaQuinta Inn in Metairie on Aug. 10 and was also a suspect in an assault on another woman.

Police say they found some of McDonald’s belongings inside Laurent’s car, which was abandoned on the bridge. Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway said a combination of surveillance video and computer and phone records linked Laurent to the murder.

Authorities discovered computers in Laurent’s car and home that might have been stolen from other victims. They also have recovered 22 wireless phones.