With arrest, Reserve couple murder case gets stranger
Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 25, 2014
By Monique Roth
LAPLACE – The homicide investigation into who killed Reserve married couple Kenneth and Lakeitha Joseph gained momentum this week as one person was arrested on Tuesday, April 22, and as many as eight more suspects are being sought, authorities said.
Frank Mike Jr., the only person arrested so far in the case, contacted police three weeks ago with a mysterious story about how he came to be in possession of the van the Josephs were known to be driving.
Family members of Kenneth Joseph, 34, and Lakeitha Joseph, 29, reported the couple missing on Feb. 19 after they had not heard from them 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 the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives received information from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia that the van the Josephs were known to be driving was located in good condition at an apartment complex parking lot in College Park, Ga.
FBI spokesperson Mary Beth Romig-Haskins said Mike was arrested on a charge of interstate transportation of stolen property for driving the vehicle from Louisiana to Georgia.
Mike has not been charged with homicide at this time.
According to court documents, Mike contacted Louisiana State Police on April 3 and told authorities he went to his New Orleans home at 8455 Beechwood Court to find the van in the driveway. This was after a witness already had reported to police to seeing the van parked at Mike’s home sometime after Feb. 17.
Mike said when he asked a friend about the van, the friend was vague about its appearance but indicated a crime was involved. Mike said he believed that crime was a robbery or that the van was a stolen vehicle because he knew that his friend was privy to that type of criminal activity.
Mike said he asked his friend if he could drive the van to Atlanta, and while there he said he wiped down the vehicle and abandoned it in a parking lot after learning from news reports that the van might be stolen and linked to the Joseph’s disappearance.
According to court reports, U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby appointed the public defender’s office to represent Mike at his first court appearance on Tuesday. At a second hearing Wednesday, she ordered him to remain in custody and set a preliminary hearing for May 5.
The bodies of the Reserve married couple were found separately last month, his on March 22 and hers on March 10, in a New Orleans waterway. Reports indicated the bodies had likely been tied up to kettlebells that police learned were purchased at Kenner Walmart on Feb. 19, the day the couple disappeared.
The man and woman seen making the purchase on the store’s surveillance camera have not been named publicly, but New Orleans Police Detective Ryan Vaught has been reported as saying that authorities know who purchased the kettlebells, among other items used in the crime, and that several additional arrests are imminent.
Mike’s arrest marked the first public break in the more than two-month multijurisdictional investigation that has involved the efforts of the New Orleans Police Department, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Secret Service, Louisiana State Police, Harbor Police, the St. John the Baptist and St. Bernard parishes Sheriff’s Offices and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.