Coroner: Marrero toddler was victim of homicidal asphyxiation

A Marrero toddler found dead beneath a pile of dirty clothes Wednesday died from “homicidal asphyxiation” according to the Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office, and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office says the boy was strangled or suffocated.

Desmond Brown, 3, was purposely denied oxygen based on an autopsy completed by the Coroner’s Office on Thursday, said Elizabeth Klein, an investigator for the Coroner’s Office. Authorities had already ruled the boy’s death a homicide Wednesday, but that designation can be applied to accidental or justifiable killings. Klein said that Desmond’s death does not fit into either category.

“This was a murder,” Klein said.

However, she declined to discuss the exact method used to deprive the child of oxygen citing the ongoing investigation.

Col. John Fortunato, a sheriff’s spokesman, later said that the boy had been suffocated or strangled.

Desmond was found dead Wednesday inside the home he shared with his mother, Lakeisha Brown, 34, on Rue Racine Drive in Marrero. Deputies were called out to the home by the boy’s frantic mother, who said she discovered him dead on the floor while preparing to wash clothes, said Col. John Fortunato, a sheriff’s spokesman.

Deputies had to climb into the home through an open window because Lakeisha Brown couldn’t locate the key to her security gate to let them in when they arrived on the scene.

Fortunato said deputies smelled a strong odor of gasoline in the home, but it has not been determined if that had anything to do with the boy’s death.

Authorities also searched the home.

The killing shocked neighbors in the community, although many of them said that Lakeisha Brown mainly kept to herself after moving into the neighborhood about a year ago. Joseph Simmons, a neighbor, said he only saw her occasionally, and they never had a conversation.

However, he said that she seemed to be very attentive when it came to the boy, and he never saw anything strange in their relationship.

“She was just a normal-seeming person,” Simmons said. “She was really good with her baby.”

No one answered the door at Brown’s home on Thursday. Simmons said that a man was living at the home recently, but police have not identified that individual.

Fortunato said that no arrests have been made in the toddler’s death, and the case is still under investigation.