New developments in unsolved Jennings murders - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

New developments in unsolved Jennings murders

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By Lee Peck - bio | email

New developments into the investigation of the six unsolved deaths of Jennings women. Authorities confirm the identity of the sixth body found in the Jennings area since 2005 as 24-year-old Crystal Benoit Zeno. DNA confirmed it was Zeno's badly decomposed body that was discovered September 11th off Lacour Road.

A preliminary autopsy ruled her death as a homicide. Meanwhile a full autopsy and toxicology are still pending. Investigators will continue to compare evidence from Zeno's case to the other five victims. Anyone who knows Zeno's whereabouts after Wednesday August 27th is asked to contact their local law enforcement agency.

Now to the search for 17-year-old Brittney Gary. Sunday will mark a week since her disappearance. 7 News was there Saturday afternoon as volunteers continued their search, including a private investigator now employed to look into the rash of unsolved murders.

 Arriving on horseback, four-wheelers and on foot, volunteers resumed the search for 17-year-old Brittney Gary. Brittney went missing Sunday November 2nd, after walking the five or so blocks to the Jennings Family Dollar. Though she purchased minutes for her cell phone, she hasn't taken a call in nearly a week and her voice mail is now full.

As her mother takes action, she's worried her daughter may be the latest victim in the string of unsolved deaths of Jennings women. She was the cousin of one of the victims as well as a friend to several others, and Brittney had expressed concern to her mother.

"She was scared, she was like you don't know who you can trust anymore, they can be your friend. You just never know," said Brittney's mother Teresa Gary.

Helping search the fields and creeks are family, friends and strangers. "We are looking to cover all of this field and woods by nightfall today," said Brittney's aunt Tina Newsom.

"We don't know her, but we have our horses out her and are trying to do everything we can to help the family," said search volunteer Mark Courville.  

The search focuses on a three mile radius near the East Racca Road/Lacour Road area where at least five of the victims were dumped. And despite what it may seem, Teresa remains very hopeful she'll find Brittney alive.

"I'm not going to think the worst. I'm not. But I just can't sit at home and wait. I can't be still. I can't," explained Teresa.

Teresa welcomes an extra set of eyes on the case. Just recently Menard Investigative Services in Jennings was employed by several people close to the investigation into the six unsolved murders.

"And we were asked to look into it separate from law enforcement and share whatever we may or may not find," said Lead P.I. Michael Mallett.  

Though he can't get into the specifics, Mallett says they've combed each crime scene and have turned over potential evidence to Louisiana State Police. Mallet says they believe the person responsible knows the area very well.

"I can tell you that we are investigating some leads and that we do have a short list of persons of interest and that we're working on the case day and night," said Mallett.

Also working the case is the FBI. Teresa was questioned by them on Friday and says they're not counting anyone out in Brittney's disappearance.

"In the end, they need me to take a lie detector test to rule all that out and I don't have a problem with that at all, but it hurts that they would think that, but I guess it's their job," said Teresa.  

Right now, she'll continue doing her job... The job of a desperate mother looking for her daughter.

Volunteers say they'll continue searching Sunday morning. In the meantime, anyone who knows the whereabouts of Brittney Gary is asked to call the Jennings Police Department at 821-5511. She's described as approximately five feet tall, 130 pounds with brown hair. She was last seen wearing a white tank top with khaki or olive colored pants rolled up like capri pants.  

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