POSTED: Saturday, June 9, 2012 - 1:12pm
UPDATED: Sunday, June 10, 2012 - 3:46pm
BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (NBC33) — The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office has identified the victim who was found intentionally dismembered after additional limbs were recovered on the beach this morning, Saturday, June 9.
“We have identified her as the missing woman from New Orleans [Jaren Lockhart] based on the recovered limbs,” Glenn Grannan, Chief Investigator, said. “A limb was discovered by a fisherman this morning. We mobilized a search effort with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office and the Hancock County Sheriff very quickly. During the search we recovered the additional limbs as well as the head.”
The torso of Jaren Lockhart was first discovered  on the Mississippi beach in Bay St. Louis on Thursday, June 7 by a cleaning crew. The head, arms and legs were removed from the body and there were stab wounds to the chest. Preliminary forensics revealed that the limbs had been intentionally removed and that the torso washed ashore. That quickly turned the investigation to neighboring regions.
“We started out with about five missing person cases of who it could be,” Grannan said. “We had a couple out of Gulf Port, Mobile, Lafayette, and one out of New Orleans.”
Those potential matches were narrowed down and Lockhart was established as the most likely match due to distinguishing tattoos and piercing. A DNA test was ordered to positively identify the victim. Although those results are still pending, investigators say this mornings discovery of additional limbs as well as the head are enough to make an identification.
“They all match with the torso based on the tattoos on her body,” Grannan explained. “We’re going to continue with the DNA matching process, but now we’re looking into who is responsible.”
The next step in the investigation is to establish how Lockhart was murdered.
“We still haven’t established where the crime took place,” Grannan noted. “We’ll probably have to catch the perpetrator to determine that.”
The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office is working in conjunction with the New Orleans Police Department from here on out. On Friday, June 8, investigators from both agencies began questioning witnesses and those close to Lockhart.
“We spent a long night in New Orleans talking to witnesses and we gained a lot of information,” Grannan said.
Lockhart was last seen in the early morning on Wednesday, June 6 at her place of employment located on the 300 block of Bourbon Street. She was reported missing the next day by her boyfriend after he was unable to contact her and became concerned.
“We know that she did make it to work,” Grannan noted. “We also know when she left. Now we’re just trying to identify who she left with. She may have left with some people that are not known to everybody.”
If you have any information that could help investigators determine who Lockhart was last with you’re urged to contact the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office at (228) 466-6900 or the New Orleans Police Department at (504) 821-2222.