Cops chase clues in search for woman's killer

By The Associated Press

BAY ST. LOUIS — Investigators are still searching for clues in the grisly murder of 22-year-old Jaren Lockhart.

The New Orleans stripper’s torso washed up last week on a beach in Bay St Louis. Over the weekend, several body additional parts were recovered in neighboring Harrison County.

Hancock County investigators went to New Orleans Monday to review surveillance video from the Temptations club on Bourbon Street where Lockhart worked and was last seen. So far, they’ve found few answers.

Chief Investigator Glenn Grannan said detectives met Monday with oceanographers to focus on whether tide patterns could help them trace back to the place where Lockhart’s dismembered body was dumped.

She had been stabbed in the chest, but the precise cause of death remains unclear. Authorities said the body was identified in part by tattoos on her neck.

Her death is under investigation as a homicide, but who killed her and how she reached the coast are unclear.

“We’ve got nothing but theories,” Grannan said.

Lockhart’s boyfriend had reported her missing to New Orleans police, who issued a missing-person bulletin last Thursday.

Lockhart’s longtime friend, Katrina Lucas Friedman, described her to The Times-Picayune as “smart, and very creative.”

“She loved art and loved to write.” It was through her drawings and poetry, Friedman said, that Lockhart expressed her feelings.

Friedman said Lockhart and her boyfriend had been together for nearly eight years since meeting when Lockhart was still in high school. The two have a 3-year-old daughter.

Lockhart frequently traveled between New Orleans and Hammond, where she had attended Hammond High School, Friedman said.

She described Lockhart as “a good mom who wanted to give her daughter everything she could.”

Friedman, who kept in touch with Lockhart after high school, said she last spoke with Lockhart about two months ago.

After getting her GED, Friedman said, Lockhart went to cosmetology school.

Authorities know she worked her shift the night of June 5 at the Temptations club and was still alive early Wednesday morning, when a surveillance camera took her picture as she left the French Quarter club.

“We are following up lead on the beach here. Of course we are continuing our search for any body parts, any clothing. We discovered some body parts Saturday and some clothing Saturday on the beach. Had some calls today on additional clothing, but looking at the tide and all, it may have taken it back out, we will just keep checking,” said Don Bass, chief deputy with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department.

Hancock County Coroner Jim Faulk said he doesn’t believe the mutilated body parts had been in the water to long.

“She couldn’t have been,” said Faulk.

Faulk will not yet reveal the exact cause of death, but said Lockhart had a stab wound to the chest and was intentionally dismembered.

“I don’t know how to tell what’s in somebody’s head that would do a thing like that I can’t understand it.”

Investigators, meanwhile, continue to search for clues as to who killed Lockhart and why.

“We are pursuing every lead that we have and every phone call,” Bass said.