WINN PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Sabine Parish Assistant Coroner Ron Rivers says the preliminary autopsy on the body found Sunday in the Kisatchie National Forest indicates "blunt force cranial injuries."
Rivers says investigators have enlisted the help of LSU FACES (Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services) to help with dental records and reconstruction of the victim's face.
The body is believed to be that of Tony Procell, 25, who authorities say was kidnapped at gunpoint by Natchitoches police officer Robert Barthelemy, 34.
It was a discovery made by Barthelemy's father-in-law that led to the body, according to Sabine Parish Sheriff Richardson, who says it was a shovel caked with "fairly fresh river mud" on the banks of Saline Lake in Winn Parish that first alerted Robert Barthelemy's father-in-law that something was out of place on the property the two had used for duck hunting in the past.
Nearby, a pair of familiar sunglasses was also found. Richardson says they "closely resemble the ones we've seen on TV of that the victim had been wearing."
At that point, Barthelemy's father-in-law called authorities. Within a couple of hours, a Red River Parish cadaver dog had alerted on a shallow grave and the body itself was found.
A crime scene unit was called in from Caddo Parish, and the body has been sent to the Caddo Parish Coroner's Office for an autopsy. Authorities say they are awaiting the final results of that autopsy to confirm the identity and determine the cause of death.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Richardson says a warrant was being typed up Monday morning, charging Barthelemy with first degree murder. The Natchtitoches police officer has been in custody since early Wednesday morning, after he was taken into custody following a high speed chase and standoff that ended in DeSoto Parish.
He is currently in the Sabine Parish Detention Center, already charged with aggravated kidnapping and home invasion. He was charged with first degree murder on Monday morning.
The Sabine Parish Sheriff's Office will assume jurisdiction in this case, even though the body was found on national park property in Winn Parish. "We did have a jurisdiction question since it was on federal property, but it was decided to let Sabine Parish handle it since it originated with us."
The case is now in the hands of Sabine Parish DA Don Burkett. "He will decide, after he reviews all the facts of the case and all the evidence that we've got, will make a decision on how he wishes to prosecute it," says Richardson.
Procell, had been missing since Tuesday, after he is believed to have been kidnapped at gunpoint by Barthelemy, a Natchitoches police officer. It was surveillance video that police say shows Barthelemy leading Procell from his home at gunpoint that prompted the search for both men on Tuesday night.
When asked for further clarification about the possible motive in the kidnapping, Sabine Parish Warden Joe Dewil says it "could be some kind of possible domestic situation," but authorities have declined to go into further detail.
The discovery of the body came on the same day Procell's family confirmed that they had asked the non-profit search and rescue organization Texas EquuSearch to assist. They were set to meet with sheriff's officials on Monday morning.
On Monday morning, the Procell family released the following statement: