Man questioned in Parnell slaying

WALKER — Deputies picked up a Denham Springs man for questioning Friday afternoon in connection with an investigation into a body found in Blind River on Thursday, Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard said.

After the victim’s autopsy Friday morning, authorities said the case was being handled as a homicide, but declined to give details about the cause of death.

The body of the victim was found by a fisherman in St. James Parish on Thursday. It has been identified as that of Brandon Steele Parnell, 26, who lived on Buddy Gill Road in Walker, Ard said.

Ard said Friday afternoon that authorities had not yet determined where the death occurred.

Deputies from Livingston and St. James parishes jointly investigated the case Thursday and Friday, authorities said.

That investigation included a helicopter search for a van that investigators believe is related to the case, Ard said. After the van was located, deputies took a man into custody for questioning, the sheriff said.

Later, in a news release, the Sheriff’s Office identified the man as Joshua M. Mitchell, 23, of Denham Springs.

Mitchell was arrested on a warrant alleging failure to register as a sex offender, and had not been booked in connection with Parnell’s death, authorities said.

Mitchell, who has no permanent address, was being treated Friday night at a hospital for injuries suffered during a K-9 apprehension, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

Investigators said the last time Parnell was known to have been seen alive was about 10 p.m. on Feb. 25. at a lounge between Denham Springs and Walker. Parnell’s body was found near Airline Highway about 2 miles south of the boundary between St. James and Ascension parishes, St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin said.