The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office remains confident that a well-publicised Angie murder will be solved. But homicide investigations take time, said Chief Deputy Mike Haley.
“We want to leave no stone unturned as we follow every lead. Investigations such as this take time and it would be irresponsible either to rush the investigation at the risk of overlooking key evidence, or to rush to judgment,” Haley said.
JaQuarius Taylor, age 17, was found shot to death near a large pond in the Angie area on January 12.
Evidence indicated that he left his home around 1:30 a.m. that Sunday morning and was killed shortly afterwards, around 2:00 to 2:30 a.m. His body was discovered at approximately 9:00 a.m.
Ja’Quarius was a senior at Varnado High School, due to graduate in May, and the shock and sorrow at his murder extend well beyond his family and classmates to people throughout the area.
His murder has also attracted attention from New Orleans media outlets, which have generated reports on the death and the investigation.
One of the most recent media reports out of New Orleans quotes family members as saying that a private autopsy conducted on Ja’Quarius indicated that more than one gun was used in the murder.
But Haley said the Sheriff’s Office has not been provided with that autopsy report. “With the forensic evidence we have at this time, it is our belief that all of the wounds were caused by the same weapon,” Haley said.
Some residents of the Angie area have suggested that the murder may be a hate crime and if so, should be classified as such.
Haley said WPSO has been contacted by state and even national media outlets asking if the murder was a hate crime. He said the investigation is still ongoing and until investigators find out who killed Ja’Quarius and what the motive was, it would be highly premature to classify the murder as a hate crime.
But, he added, “If the investigation reveals this is a hate crime, we will classify it as such.”
Haley said the investigation is proceeding “full bore.”
The Sheriff’s Office is devoting every possible resource toward solving the crime, he said.
He noted that the Sheriff’s Office contacted the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office soon after the murder occurred to get divers to search the pond where the body was found.
Those divers discovered Ja’Quaris’ cell phone in the pond and it has been sent to a federal forensics laboratory for anaylsis, he said.
In addition, Haley noted that the FBI is also conducting a completely independent investigation of the murder.
Haley said the Sheriff’s Office is confident that it will find the person or persons responsible for the murder, but, he said, WPSO is not going to rush the investigation and risk missing critical evidence. “It will be solved,” he said.