The bodies of two dead men found in the Intracoastal Canal are connected to the kidnapping of a woman from Lafayette, Sheriff Mike Cazes confirmed during a press conference on Tuesday, Aug. 8.
The two men, Sylvester Henry Bracey, 27, and Arsenio Montrell Haynes, 27, both of Jackson Mississippi have extensive criminal histories and were found at different times on Monday. They were both wearing red shirts and black pants. The two men both drowned, Cazes said on Tuesday night.
The kidnapping is still under investigation by the Lafayette Police Department. The victim of the kidnapping was discovered in West Baton Rouge handcuffed in the back of a van that the two men were driving on Sunday, Cazes said.
West Baton Rouge became entangled in this case when the kidnappers were driving eastbound on Interstate 10 through the parish, Cazes said.
When they came across a road closure on the interstate, they decided to speed down the shoulder. That’s when an Iberville Sheriff’s unit spotted the vehicle and gave chase, Cazes said.
The vehicle took the exit for La. Hwy. 415 and travelled south until it became stuck in loose ground. The passenger and driver, who were armed, ditched the vehicle and ran toward the woods, Cazes said.
Shortly after, WBRSO deputies discovered the kidnapping victim, a black female, inside of the abandoned vehicle.
The Sheriff organized a manhunt in the area that night, utilizing a helicopter from the West Feliciana Sheriff’s Office and bloodhounds from Hunt Correctional Center, Cazes said. The two men were caught on camera at nearby Turner Industries, located along the Intracoastal Canal, although they never made it inside the building, Cazes said.
The trail went cold and eventually the manhunt was called off, he said.
The same day, the Lafayette Police Department announced it was searching for Michael Handley on charges of conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping, conspiracy to commit attempted second-degree kidnapping and violation of a protective order against a female victim. Handley is still at large, according to Lafayette Police spokeswoman Cpl. Bridgette Dugas.
The kidnapping charges stem from a domestic dispute between Handley and the victim, Dugas said. Handley’s involvement is still unknown, but Dugas also confirmed that the kidnapping charges and the two men found in the Intracoastal are connected.
The first body was discovered at about 3:30 p.m. on Monday in the Intracoastal when two children surfing in the water spotted it and notified authorities. A few hours later, a tugboat in the canal spotted another.
Both bodies were found near Turner Industries, where the trail went cold, Cazes said.
“I can positively ID these are the two guys I chased on Sunday afternoon,” Cazes said.
For now, the WBRSO’s work is done.
“Unless we caught them, I would have charged them as fugitives from Lafayette Parish,” Cazes said. “Other than that, they didn’t break the laws here. They just ended up in our parish.”
More details regarding this case are forthcoming.
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(ABOVE) Photo by Quinn Welsch/The West Side Journal
West Baton Rouge Sheriff Mike Cazes (left) meets with reporters and TV crews during a press conference regarding the bodies of two men discovered in the Intracoastal Canal on Tuesday, Aug. 8.