Waiting for Justice Part II: A mother's quest for answers in her daughter's death

Waiting for Justice Part II: A mother's quest for answers in her daughter's death

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "That's my girl, my first child," said Kenisha Martin.

Kenisha Martin lost her 16-year-old daughter, Kaylan Ward, nearly two years ago, and Martin’s heart is broken. Police found Kaylan’s body on the I-10 overpass near Bullard Avenue in New Orleans East on June 4, 2015. It took the coroner’s office four days to identify her body because she had been run over so many times by cars on the interstate.

Martin remembers getting the horrifying call while she was at work.

"I couldn't talk, so I gave the phone to my supervisor, and I could just remember running out of the building to the play area for the kids. I just ran around. I just was praying and praying,"  Martin said.

Word quickly spread about the 16-year-old's demise.

"By the time I had gotten home, there were people everywhere. The children were leaving school. They were at my house. They were everywhere," Martin said.

She said Kaylan was loved by many. Her death, though, remains a mystery.

"When I read her autopsy report, it stated blunt force trauma," Martin said.

Autopsy results revealed the gruesome details of the condition of Kaylan's body, including multiple fractures and detached body parts.

"I had people that reached out to me on social media after that happened. They said, 'I passed that site, but I thought it was a dead dog in the street.' Cars were actually hitting her. Her body was in pieces," Martin said.

The coroner's official cause of death is undetermined. Martin, however, believes someone murdered her child and she wants justice.

"Each day I walk out my door, I'm thinking they're still out there. What if they want to do something to me or my kids?" she said.

Five days before Kaylan's body was found, she ran away from home.

"There was the bad crowd that I begged my child to stay away from, but she just couldn't seem to stay away from that bad crowd," Martin said.

Martin was actively searching for Kaylan, and said she found her at a home on Allen Street.

"She was actually at a home where the kids were there, basically living alone. The mom had moved out and given the kids the house. I contacted NOPD. I stayed at the home for four hours waiting on the police," Martin said.

When the officers arrived, Martin said they told her they didn't have the necessary paperwork to write a report, and she said they refused to enter the home. Little did she know, less than 48 hours later her daughter would be killed.

Months after Kaylan's death, Martin filed a complaint with the NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau, and PIB determined misconduct did occur. The report stated that Officer Denzel Million was in training and under the direct supervision of Officer Ryan Morgan. The investigator recommended additional training for both officers.

"Had I gotten the necessary help that I needed on June 2, I feel like she would have been home because once she was home, she wasn't going to leave again," Martin said.

In the months after Kaylan's body was found, Martin said she received death threats from the people she believes may be responsible for what happened to Kaylan.

"I've even turned everything in to police and made police reports. I had one of the children tell me, 'The same thing that happened to Kaylan will happen to you.' I reported all of that," Martin said.

Frustrated, Martin turned to the Independent Police Monitor, who then arranged a meeting with high-ranking members of the NOPD.

"So, she had concerns about witnesses that she felt needed to be interviewed but hadn't been, and physical evidence that needed to be collected, but she felt hadn't been," Ursula Price said.

Deputy Police Monitor Ursula Price said the meeting went well, and the NOPD and Martin came to an agreement on some of the issues.

"Ms. Martin made complaints and they had their own outcomes, but they hadn't actually resolved her needs as a mother of a murder victim," Price said.

Price said her office does not have the authority to hold anyone in the homicide division accountable when it comes to the agreements made with Martin. Price said she's also concerned about the incident that unfolded on Allen Street just days before Kaylan's death.

"My deepest concern with that incident is the inaction on the part of the police department. It comes up more often than people might think that when things are legally unclear for officers, they sometimes choose to take no action rather than to take any action," Price said.

"I understand that they're understaffed and overworked, but that does not take away from myself and other hurting families that just want justice," Martin said.

Martin is extremely upset by what she calls sloppy police work on the part of the NOPD. The NOPD told FOX 8, that they are actively working the case, but there's no new information concerning the investigation.

"I just feel like whoever did this, they're laughing because they have run circles around the NOPD. There were so many things right in front of everyone's face that this person knows too much, but they didn't aggressively go after those people to speak with them," Martin said.

While's it's heartbreaking, Martin said she has had to deal with the unsolved death of a loved one before.

"For me, this is a second time. I have an unsolved case with my husband that was killed in 2009, so to turn back around in 2015 and have to go through the same process with my daughter is very hard for me," she said.

"I'm a mother too, and I cannot imagine going through what this woman has gone through," Price said.

Martin often visits Kaylan at her gravesite. This time she brought her something special.

"I brought her honorary State of Louisiana diploma from McDonogh 35. This was a day we always talked about. She isn't here. I just felt like she deserved this," Martin said.

She said with the case involving her husband, she didn't fight for justice. This time, it's different.

"I need to do this. I need her to know that I'm not letting this go. I need her to know that someone is not going to just get away with this. This is something that I feel like I have to do, and I won't stop until I get it," she said.

Martin is desperate for answers. Crimestoppers, at (504) 822-1111, is offering a $5,000 reward in this case.

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