Suspect booked in Bourbon Street dancer’s death

Nearly two years after pieces of her dismembered body washed ashore on a Mississippi beach, authorities made the first arrest Wednesday in the case of a slain Bourbon Street dancer.

Local and federal authorities arrested Margaret Sanchez in Metairie about 7 a.m. and booked her on a count of second-degree murder in connection with the killing of 22-year-old Jaren Lockhart, said Sgt. Brian McGregor, a Kenner Police Department spokesman.

The arrest came a few weeks after Kenner police took over the investigation from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office in Mississippi.

The Hancock County office had been investigating the case because pieces of Lockhart’s body washed ashore on the beach there.

But Hancock officials recently handed over the investigation to Kenner because detectives believed Lockhart was killed in Kenner and later dismembered and dumped into the Gulf of Mexico, either to hide the evidence or possibly as part of a ritual.

Glenn Grannan, chief investigator for the Hancock Sheriff’s Office, said last month that his department had investigated the case “as thoroughly as possible” and the evidence indicated that Lockhart was killed in Kenner.

Kenner police said they would not discuss Sanchez’s arrest until Thursday because Chief Steve Caraway was out of town Wednesday.

Lockhart was reported missing June 6, 2012, after she left her shift at Temptations, a strip club in the 300 block of Bourbon Street.

After reviewing surveillance footage from a neighboring Bourbon Street club, investigators identified Sanchez and Terry Speaks as the last people Lockhart was seen with before she disappeared.

Pieces of her dismembered body began to wash ashore along the Mississippi Gulf Coast a few days later.

Speaks and Sanchez were briefly held on unrelated charges in Tangipahoa Parish but were released because of a lack of evidence against them.

Speaks is now is in a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., on an unrelated charge of failure to register as a sex offender in North Carolina. Kenner police did not say Wednesday whether he will face charges related to Lockhart’s killing.

Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter @DCMonteverde.