Documents: Reserve couple bound before drowning
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The disappearance of Lakeitha and Kenneth Joseph has been steeped in mystery since the Reserve couple was reported missing Feb. 19. Their bodies were recovered last month from the Intracoastal Waterway in eastern New Orleans.
But while investigators have divulged little about their case, New Orleans police are pursuing evidence that suggests the couple were the targets of a calculated killing.
The deaths have not been classified as homicides by the Orleans Parish Coroner's Office, which confirmed the victims drowned and were not shot, stabbed, strangled or beaten. According to new court documents, the paper reports both victims were bound at the feet with blue nylon rope.
When fishermen spotted Kenneth Joseph's body March 22, the rope had been tethered to the handle of a 30-pound kettlebell in what detectives described as "an attempt to weigh Joseph's remains down under the surface of the water."
The rope tied to Lakeitha Joseph, whose remains were found March 10, appeared to be frayed at one end, according to a search warrant, leading detectives to believe she "may have also been secured to a kettlebell prior to the blue rope breaking free, allowing her remains to surface."
"There are a lot of things we can't get into right now because of the integrity of the investigation," said John Gagliano, the Coroner's Office's chief investigator. Police declined to comment Tuesday on the status of the investigation.
The search warrant, filed last week by Detective Ryan Vaught, offers the clearest indication to date that investigators suspect foul play in the case. It also revealed that a Dodge Caravan borrowed by the Josephs a day before they disappeared contained "blood evidence" when the authorities found it abandoned outside Atlanta.
The couple was reported missing Feb. 19 after family members grew concerned when they failed to return the borrowed van to Kenneth Joseph's sister. Their home was found unlocked and, according to family members, appeared to have been ransacked.