Hancock County authorities to present Jaren Lockhart case to district attorney

Hancock County authorities to present Jaren Lockhart case to district attorney
CrimeTracker

POSTED: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 11:15am

UPDATED: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 1:29pm

The Hancock County Sheriff's Office says it plans to deliver a presentation to the District Attorney's Office in the next week, making a case for at least one charge against a couple they call "suspects" in the murder and dismemberment of a Bourbon Street dancer.

Jaren Lockhart, 22, was reported missing on June 6. Her torso washed ashore on a beach in Bay St. Louis, Miss., and other parts of her severed body washed up days later.

A man investigated in connection with the disappearance and murder of a New Orleans woman has been moved from the North Carolina jail where he has been confined and is now in the federal prison system.

Margaret Sanchez, the woman who has been connected to the death of Jaren Lockhart, has been released from the Tangipahoa Parish Jail.

Some of the evidence in the investigation surrounding a Bourbon Street dancer’s disappearance and gruesome death has been taken to FBI headquarters, investigators told WDSU.

Lockhart was last seen on surveillance video inside a French Quarter men's club days before her disappearance. She was seen on recordings accompanied by 28-year-old Margaret Sanchez and 39-year-old Terry Speaks.

The couple was taken into custody in Tangipahoa Parish on a traffic stop.

Sanchez was eventually released, and Speaks, who is a convicted sex offender, was extradited to North Carolina where he was wanted for violating rules related to his conviction. Speaks was eventually taken to a federal prison in New York.W

Neither Sanchez nor Speaks were charged in connection with Lockhart's death.

However, investigators said the two remain suspects in this case and authorities have been continuing to sift through evidence and speak with witnesses.

Now, they feel they have enough to move forward with a case, but it may not bring a charge of murder. It is possible, instead, that initial charges against Sanchez and Speaks could focus on desecration of a human corpse.

"Our strongest position is an alternative charge other than homicide," Hancock County Commander and Chief Investigator Glenn Grannan told WDSU. "I don't want to discuss just what that is yet, but that's what we believe. We also have a pretty strong case for homicide. But if we charge them with homicide and I'm not successful with a conviction, then double jeopardy comes into play and I'll never get another chance."

In Mississippi, all felony cases must go before a grand jury. Eighteen citizens will decide whether to bring charges -- whatever they are -- against Sanchez and Speaks. There is no timeline for when that could happen.

After interviewing dozens of people, looking at evidence and reviewing analysis from tidal experts, Grannan said, "These things standing on their own don't mean a lot, but as everything came together we saw this is a really classic circumstantial case -- it's very good."

 

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