Body found in eastern New Orleans that of missing Reserve woman

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE – According to a release from the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office, detectives have been told that the body recovered in New Orleans Monday was identified as Lakeitha Joseph.

She and her husband Kenneth Joseph were first reported missing by family members Feb. 19.

St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives are now working this case with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and New Orleans Police Department.

A woman’s body was found Monday afternoon in the Intracoastal Waterway near the NASA Michoud assembly facility in eastern New Orleans. Because the length of time the body had been in the water, questions were immediately raised about whether it could be the body of Lakeitha Joseph. A positive ID could not be made until Tuesday evening.

The discovery came after the search for the couple heated up recently, beginning with the discovery of the vehicle the couple were last believed to be driving was discovered in Georgia, followed by a huge search of the swamplands that line the Interstate 55 corridor.

Responding to a phoned-in tip, St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office led a search Friday morning along a 14-mile stretch of swamp for the missing Reserve couple.

Authorities searched for four hours along I-55 from LaPlace to Manchac.

The search, in collaboration with the Port of South Louisiana and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, included 27 deputies, six boats, two four-wheelers and a two-hour helicopter flight.

The March 7 search started at 8:30 a.m. and was suspended at 12:30 p.m. when authorities said they found no sign of the couple and they were confident the area was clear.

Lt. Chip Wale, who coordinates all search-and-rescue efforts for St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office, said, “you do everything you can when two people’s lives are in the balance.”

Family members of Kenneth Joseph, 34, and Lakeitha Joseph, 29, reported they had not heard from the couple since Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m.

Kenneth’s sister told investigators that Kenneth often borrowed her vehicle and would return it before morning the next day. She said that he borrowed her vehicle Feb. 18 at approximately 6:30 p.m. and had not returned the vehicle.

On Feb. 27 St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives received information from the Fulton County Sheriff Office in Georgia that the van that Kenneth and Lakeitha Joseph were known to be driving was located in good condition at an apartment complex parking lot in College Park, Ga.

Clement said the van has been processed for evidence, but the Sheriff’s Office is not releasing any information at this time about what evidence, if any, was found.

Kenneth and Lakeitha Joseph’s loved ones cooked plates of food last Friday afternoon to raise money to increase the Crimestoppers reward for information on their whereabouts.

Kenneth Joseph is 5-feet-8-inches tall and weighs 210 pounds. His whereabouts are still unknown.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Kenneth Joseph is asked to call the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office tip line at 985-359- 8477 or Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.

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