Bodies found in Intracoastal Canal believed to be kidnapping suspects

Andrew Green
Sylvester Bracey (left) and Arsenio Haynes

Updated Thursday, Aug. 10

Two bodies recovered from the Intracoastal Canal in West Baton Rouge Parish on Monday are believed to be two suspects, identified as Sylvester Bracey and Arsenio Haynes both of Jackson, Ms., involved in a Sunday kidnapping in Lafayette, according to West Baton Rouge Sheriff Mike Cazes.

The bodies were recovered around the same area where WBR Sheriff deputies were searching for the two 27-year-olds after they abandoned and fled their vehicle Sunday afternoon.

According to Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi, one of his deputies was off-duty at the time and on his way back to Plaquemine from the Maringouin area.  The deputy noticed a suspicious van passing him on I-10 and the deputy pulled up behind them while stuck in traffic just before the LA 415 exit.

According to Stassi, the van drove onto the right shoulder to take the 415 exit and the Iberville Sheriff deputy followed.  The vehicle hit a dead end at Turner Industries and when the IPSO deputy approached, two men wearing matching clothing jumped out of the van and escaped into the nearby woods.  The deputy opened the van and found a victim tied up in the back and she was taken to a nearby hospital.

The IPSO deputy contacted WBR Parish Sheriff officials, who arrived on scene and determined the victim was taken from her home in Lafayette.

“I’d like to congratulate the young deputy who noticed something out of the ordinary with the vehicle,” Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said.  “Though he was off duty, he followed through and was able to help the victim.  There is no telling what would have happened if he would not have gotten behind them.”

WBR Sheriff officials searched the area until about 9 p.m. on Sunday night for the two fleeing suspects.  West Feliciana Sheriff’s Office assisted with a helicopter search of the area.  The search was cancelled at dark, and it was not until 3 p.m. the next day (Monday) when WBR Parish Sheriff Mike Cazes received a call about a body found by two boys out on the water in the Intracoastal Canal.  The second body was found and reported around 6:30 p.m. that same day.

The bodies recovered matched the clothing of the two suspects seen fleeing in a Turner Industries surveillance camera Sunday afternoon.

“I am totally convinced that the two people we were chasing Sunday afternoon matched the same clothing description that we pulled out of Intracoastal Canal,” Cazes said.  The two bodies were wearing matching shirts and pants and were found in the same immediate area located behind Turner Industries.  Cazes claimed the WBR Sheriff’s office recovered evidence assuring him they are the suspects, but declined to release the information at a recent press briefing.

Cazes noticed that an autopsy is being done on the two bodies and that information will be deferred back to the Lafayette Police Department.

Currently, Lafayette police are still on the hunt for a 49-year-old businessman, Lawrence Michael Handley, believed to be involved with the kidnapping.

The victim was taken from her home, had a bag placed over her head and was forced into a white van, according to the Lafayette police report.

The kidnapping is believed to have “stemmed from an ongoing domestic dispute” between her and Handley, according to the Lafayette Police Department.  Handley is currently wanted on counts of second-degree kidnapping, attempted second-degree kidnapping and violation of a protective order, according to reports.

The identities of the two bodies recovered is still unknown, and the investigation and search is ongoing.