Search Goes On For Possible Serial Killer / Jumper


Jumper search goes on; details emerge

David J. Mitchell

Advocate River Parishes bureau

Authorities scanned the bottom of the Mississippi River Wednesday with sonar in a search for the man who jumped from the Veterans Memorial Bridge on Tuesday, while similarities emerged in some of the crimes to which he has been tentatively linked.

Kylan M. Laurent, 22, of Vacherie, has been identified as “a person of interest” in two homicides and an aggravated assault and robbery in Jefferson Parish, law enforcement officials said.

Laurent also is a suspect in several crimes in Baton Rouge, including one in which he is wanted on charges of aggravated battery and false imprisonment, State Police have said.

Baton Rouge Police Department and State Police spokesmen were not able to release details on the Baton Rouge cases Wednesday. Arrest warrants were not available in the court record.

Laurent jumped from the bridge linking St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes Tuesday afternoon during a chase with State Police troopers after they tried to stop his car on La. 18 in St. James Parish.

With Laurent still missing despite a search by several agencies, State Police also declined to rule out the possibility, albeit extremely remote, that he survived the roughly 165-foot fall into the muddy river’s swift currents below.

“We can’t assume he is deceased until we have the body,” said spokeswoman Melissa Matey of State Police Troop B.

She said it can take time for a body to surface in the river due to ship and barge traffic and underwater debris. Sometimes it takes months, she said.

Matey noted that a woman survived a fall several years ago from the Crescent City Connection.

In each of the Jefferson Parish attacks this month, a young black woman with out-of-state ties was assaulted in a motel room, according to reports and accounts from authorities.

Each of three women appeared to have been bound — possibly with heavy tape. Two of them were strangled or asphyxiated, the third survived:

• On Monday, Anita McDonald, 22, of Flowood, Miss., was found dead, partially clothed in her bed in a room at a Comfort Suites Airport motel in the 2700 block of Idaho Avenue in Kenner. She was strangled. Ligature marks were found on her wrists and neck. Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway said the marks included the sticky remains of duct or electrical tape.

• On Aug. 18, Avery Shirnelle, 22, of Ohio, reported to Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies that a man she met through a social media website choked her until she lost consciousness at the Sun Suites, 1101 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey. Shirnelle, who fought with her attacker and scratched him, woke up with her hands bound behind her back and a pillow tied over her face. Black electrical tape was used.

• On Aug. 10, the partially clothed body of Jateese Hudgins, 20, of Philadelphia, was found with her hands tied behind her back at the La Quinta Inn, 5900 Veterans Blvd., Metairie. Preliminary autopsy results indicate cause of death was partially from strangulation and partially asphyxiation due to suffocation.

Three of Shirnelle’s cellphones were stolen, along with cash and a laptop computer, a sheriff’s report says.

Caraway said McDonald’s cellphone was missing.

McDonald was arrested last year on a count of soliciting prostitution in Nevada, Caraway has said.

Shirnelle told Jefferson sheriff’s detectives she is a dancer who is traveling. She told deputies she rented the hotel room and, wanting company, had used the Internet to look up the man who subsequently attacked her, a report says.

State Police originally reported Tuesday night that Laurent was a suspect in three Jefferson Parish homicides.

But State Police and Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies clarified on Wednesday that it was two homicides and an assault that a woman survived. Laurent also was only a person of interest in those cases, they said.

Sgt. Larry Dyess, spokesman for the Jefferson sheriff, said deputies were still working with other agencies to determine if Laurent is a suspect in those crimes.

Perhaps underscoring the importance of finding Laurent’s body, Jefferson sheriff’s deputies recovered fingerprints and DNA from at least one of those crime scenes, a report says.

It is not clear to whom the material belonged. Dyess declined comment on the reports at this time.

Trooper Graham said that while a trooper saw Laurent go over the edge Tuesday, no one saw him fall or hit the water. By the time the trooper could look over the edge, he could not see anything, Graham said.

St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin said authorities spent time Tuesday looking in the bridge superstructure for Laurent. A flip-flop sandal was spotted on a beam below the bridge deck, Graham said.

Doug Shaffer, LSU’s head diving coach, said Laurent’s fall is likely near, although not beyond, the limit of human ability to survive. But he also said it is a dive made even more difficult by the river current.

“In my opinion, that level is at the threshold for an experienced athlete with years of training and experience,” Shaffer said.

Adam Einck, spokesman for the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said a department boat used sonar to search the river for Laurent on Wednesday.



Cops: dead woman’s phone in bridge jumper’s car

Posted:Aug 25, 2011 3:44 PM CDT Updated:Aug 25, 2011 3:44 PM CDT KENNER, LA (AP) –

Police say the cell phone and driver’s license of a woman killed in a Kenner motel were found in the car of a man who jumped off a Mississippi River bridge to escape police.

The Times-Picayune reports that Kenner police have an arrest warrant accusing Kylan Laurent of murdering Anita McDonald, whose body was found on a bed in the motel.

Police believe Laurent, of Vacherie, went to the hotel room to kill McDonald.

Police were chasing Laurent when he stopped his car on the bridge Tuesday and plunged into the river.

Laurent is also described as a “person of interest” in the Aug. 10 murder of Jateese Hudgins in a Metairie motel and an assault of a woman in a Harvey motel on Aug. 18.



  1. Kylan Laurent found a prostitute online and made an appointment to meet at her Kenner motel room. But he didn’t want sex, police say.

    Kenner police say they think this man, shown hiding his face in a surveillance camera image outside a room at the Comfort Suites motel, is Kylan Laurent, whom they accuse of killing Anita McDonald at the motel Monday night.
    Instead, they say, Laurent drove to Comfort Suites on Monday afternoon to kill Anita McDonald, 22.

    He bound her wrists, likely with zip ties, and strangled her with his hands, then he cleaned her up, removed the bindings and placed her in the sleeping position on the bed, police said.

    “This was something that was planned,” Chief Steve Caraway said. “His intention was to commit a murder.”

    Caraway’s assertion came at a news conference Thursday to explain the evidence against Laurant, amid speculation that he strangled another prostitute Aug. 10 at a Metairie motel Aug. 10 and choked yet another unconscious Aug. 18 at a Harvey motel.

    Investigators found McDonald’s phone, driver’s license and debit card Wednesday when they searched Laurent’s 2005 Chevrolet Impala, Caraway said. Laurent, a 22-year-old Vacherie resident, had abandoned the car on the Veterans Memorial Bridge after a high-speed chase with State Police on Tuesday. He jumped 165 feet into the Mississippi River and has yet to be found, despite a search using boats and helicopters.

    Originally from Flowood, Miss., McDonald arrived in Kenner on Sunday night and posted an advertisement on the website to let people know she was available, Caraway said. Laurent contacted her that night.

    He went to the motel Monday about 2 p.m. and was gone by 3:15 p.m., Caraway said. McDonald’s fiancé called the motel to ask staff to check on her because he hadn’t heard from her, Caraway said. Motel staff found her unconscious in the room and called police after 9 p.m. She was lying in the bed in the fetal position, her head on the pillow.

    “She was posed to look like she was sleeping,” said detective David Stromeyer, the lead investigator on the case.

    Caraway said it appeared the crime was meticulously planned rather than committed in the heat of passion. “This person did a very good job of cleaning the room and not leaving any evidence behind,” he said.

    There was no evidence that the two had sex, Stromeyer said.

    Police said McDonald’s family knew about her lifestyle. She visited different parts of the country, including California, Florida and Nevada, staying in motels and advertising herself as a prostitute.

    “We believe this person traveled a lot setting up shop in a number of cities,” Caraway said. She was only planning to be in Kenner until Tuesday morning, Stromeyer said. Then she planned to go to Mississippi to visit family.

    Police said Laurent is unemployed but was a member of the Louisiana Air National Guard. A Louisiana National Guard spokesman, Lt. Col. Michael Kazmierzak, said there is a person of the same name in the 159th Fighter Wing of the Louisiana Air National Guard, but he couldn’t confirm whether they are the same person.

    Kylan Laurent

    Anita McDonald
    Laurent also is a “person of interest” in the killing of Jateese Hudgins, 21, of Philadelphia at a La Quinta Inn in Metairie, and the non-fatal attack on a 22-year-old Cleveland woman at a Sun Suites Motel in Harvey.

    Hudgins and McDonald were both prostitutes, police said, and the woman in the Harvey case described herself as a “dancer.”

    Caraway wouldn’t comment about the Metairie and Harvey cases except to say that Kenner police are working with other agencies. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the other two crimes, plans to discuss its work at a news conference today.

    Kenner police identified Laurent as the suspect in McDonald’s death through phone records, Caraway said. Stromeyer found that Laurent had called McDonald’s phone a few times and that McDonald’s last phone communication was to Laurent’s phone. After the murder, both phones were tracking to the same communications tower in Vacherie, indicating they were in close proximity to each other.

    Stromeyer was in the process of obtaining a warrant to search the homes of Laurent’s grandmother and girlfriend when Laurent jumped from the bridge.

    Authorities in Baton Rouge, where Laurent is suspected in two violent crimes, had been tracking Laurent, and State Police tried to pull over his car near Vacherie on Tuesday about 1 p.m. He fled and, upon reaching the mid-point of the Veterans Memorial Bridge, got out and jumped.

    The search for him will continue until he is found, said Trooper Russell Graham, spokesman for State Police Troop A.

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