Coroner: Body Found was Pregnant, Shot in Head

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -An autopsy that was performed Wednesday revealed that the victim found in a ditch in Iberville Parish on Tuesday died from a gunshot wound to the head and was pregnant at the time of death, according to the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office.

Dr. Beau Clark, the parish coroner, said there was no trauma to the baby, who "died as a result of the mother's death."

Officials still have not confirmed the identity of the body, but have said it is "possibly" the missing pregnant teacher from Baton Rouge. 

Clark said that the body was so badly decomposed that they needed DNA samples to make a positive ID. DNA analysis is still underway at the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab. 

"Over the last several weeks to days we've had a lot of hot weather, a lot of rain. When a body is exposed to the elements like that, especially in the southeastern part of the United States, decomposition can happen very rapidly," Clark said. 

A farmer in Rosedale found a body, which could be Lyntell Washington, 40, who disappeared last Wednesday. Cpl. L'Jean McKneely with the Baton Rouge Police Department said investigators from several agencies assisted in processing the scene Tuesday. 

Authorities began search efforts Friday for the missing woman who was once named "Teacher of the Year" and currently teaches at Brookstown Middle Magnet Academy. Crews were deployed in the air, on land, and in the water for much of the day Friday, searching five key areas across south Louisiana, including Baker, Zachary, Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, and Ramah. The multi-agency search was temporarily suspended at nightfall on Friday. 

Washington was reported missing Thursday morning after her 3-year-old daughter was found by a Good Samaritan alone near her vehicle in Baton Rouge. Blood was found inside the vehicle.

The assistant principal of the Baton Rouge middle school where she works was arrested in connection with her disappearance. Robert Jovantie Marks, 39, was charged with aggravated kidnapping and child desertion charges because Washington's child was left abandoned in a parking lot.  

Marks is married to another woman and police suspect he might have been fearful his wife would find out he had gotten Washington pregnant, according to police records. Police said cell phone records show Marks' phone as well as a phone belonging to Washington were in the Ramah area around 9:45 p.m. Wednesday. Both phones were in that area for about 15 minutes before returning to Baton Rouge, according to police documents. 

According to the probable cause report, the child told investigators that "'Mr. Robbie' hurt her mother and was now sleeping." It also revealed the child was with her mother and Marks "when she heard a 'bang' and after the bang her mom was 'shaking.' She also stated that her mom's in the lake and that it was dark outside when her mom got hurt."

McKneely said detectives also learned Marks took Washington's 3-year-old daughter for a ride on Wednesday night and left her unattended in a parking in the 11000 block of Newcastle Avenue. 

Officials with the East Baton Rouge Parish School System confirmed Washington was the 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year. They also confirmed that Marks is the assistant principal at the same school and has been placed on administrative leave. 

Washington's child was turned over to family members.

Police said Saturday that Marks had gotten a lawyer and refused to cooperate with the investigation. 

If DNA identifies the body found Tuesday as Washington, police will likely question Marks, who remains in custody, again. 

The 19th Judicial District Attorney's Office said charges related to the body found will likely include murder and feticide, but whether or not it will be Marks facing those charges is yet to be seen. 

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