Jaren Lockhart’s family and friends gathered Friday night at the Livingston Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau in Albany to light candles and send up prayers for justice in her case.
Wearing pink and black, Lockhart’s favorite colors, and lighting pink and white candles in her memory, the crowd of about 70 shared hugs, tears and loving memories of the Tangipahoa Parish native.
“She was just a beautiful girl and a loving mother,” Donna Lockhart said of her daughter, who leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter of her own.
Meanwhile, the Kenner man suspected of beheading and dismembering Lockhart, 22, will be sent to North Carolina after he waived detention and extradition proceedings in New Orleans federal court Friday.
Terry Christopher Speaks, 39, waived his rights to a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Joseph Wilkinson, eliminating the need for federal authorities to prove his danger to the community and potential flight risk, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said Friday.
“His attorney indicated he would not contest detention by federal authorities or extradition back to North Carolina,” Letten said.
As a result, Speaks will be extradited back to Surry County, N.C., where he is wanted for failure to maintain a current address with the sex offender registry, a federal offense, Letten said.
Speaks was convicted in 2003 on three counts of indecent liberty with a minor, according to the North Carolina Offender Registry.
He moved outside the state sometime between May and September 2011 without reporting his whereabouts to the authorities, court records show, and a warrant was issued for his arrest on Feb. 28.
The timing of Speaks’ transfer will be up to the U.S. Marshals Service, which has custody of him, Letten said.
“At this point, it’s just a matter of logistics,” Letten said.
Speaks and Margaret Sanchez, 28, were arrested Tuesday night in Tangipahoa Parish on counts unrelated to Lockhart’s death.
Lockhart’s boyfriend reported her missing June 6 after she didn’t come home from work at a Bourbon Street gentleman’s club, authorities said.
Lockhart’s partial remains and clothing washed ashore on several Mississippi beaches last week, beginning with Bay St. Louis, in Hancock County, on June 7, authorities said.
Investigators said they tracked down the Kenner couple based on callers’ tips after a surveillance video was released showing a man and woman leaving the Bourbon Street club with Lockhart around 2 a.m. the day she was reported missing.
During the Albany gathering of relatives and friends of the victim, Donna Lockhart said she’s been in a daze for the past week since her daughter’s disappearance.
“Who could do such a thing to such a beautiful girl? To anyone?” said Kristina Murphy, a close family friend.
“Jaren would do anything for you,” Murphy said. “She’d give you the shirt off her back if she knew you needed it.”
Richard Baham, a cousin to the Lockharts, said there was nothing negative about Jaren Lockhart.
“She was always wearing a smile, no matter what was going on in her life,” Baham said. “She just did stuff to brighten up your day.”
Lance Lockhart said he has nothing but “choice words” for whoever killed his sister, and he wants justice, “Absolutely.”
Waiting for answers in her death has been very frustrating, he said, “but I know the cops are doing the best they can.”
“If anyone knows anything, please say something,” he said.
The family has set up a memorial fund in Lockhart’s name. Donations to the Jaren Lockhart Memorial Fund may be made at any Whitney or Hancock Bank location, Murphy said.
Investigators believe Speaks and Sanchez may have lured Lockhart with an offer of $700 or $800 for her to dance at a private party, said Glenn Grannan, lead investigator with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.
“We know that the suspects, particularly the female (Sanchez), tried to recruit a couple other girls before Jaren,” Grannan said. “We believe she (Lockhart) accepted after the others declined, and it went from there.”
Grannan said neither Sanchez nor Speaks has been cooperative with investigators. “She wanted to talk about the weather, but that was it. Same thing with him,” Grannan said.
The pair continue to be the primary suspects in Lockhart’s death, but are not the only suspects, Grannan said.
Grannan declined to comment further on other suspects or leads investigators may be pursuing.
He said Hancock County has not filed charges or extradition papers against either Sanchez or Speaks, but noted that the FBI’s analysis of evidence taken from the couple’s home is still under way.
The evidence recovered was “very little,” Grannan said, “and will require forensic analysis. It’s nothing obvious.”
Grannan said he’s hopeful the forensic work would give investigators the information they need to get an arrest warrant.
“But it won’t happen overnight or over the weekend,” he said.
Sanchez remained in the Tangipahoa Parish Jail in lieu of $1,500 bail Friday night, deputies said.
She was booked with failure to signal and resisting an officer, both misdemeanor offenses, deputies said.
Speaks had been booked with resisting an officer, resisting an officer by flight, aggravated assault and being a fugitive from the U.S. Marshals Service, deputies said.