NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The state fire marshal said investigators are examining video surveillance evidence gathered from the scene of a fire that engulfed the Lacombe-area home of a fire chief and his wife, whose body was later recovered and found to have a bullet wound.
Nanette Watson Krentel died 12 days ago. Friends and family say today would have been her 50th birthday. Nanette's sister and friends spoke out for the first time Wednesday, saying Nanette was the protector of her younger siblings and is especially missed today.
"Because it's her birthday today, I wanted to celebrate my sister, and we will not stop until we have the truth," said Wendy Watson. "We are still in shock, we are in absolute disbelief."
The retired teacher was a 1985 graduate of Chappelle, and her death has brought classmates closer together as they post remembrances and updates on Facebook.
"It's heartbreaking that she's having to celebrate in heaven instead of with us here," said former classmate and close friend Lori Rando.
"She used to be happy. She had the best laugh ever," said Watson.
The body of Nanette Krentel, the wife of Covington District 12 Fire Chief Steve Krentel, was found in the charred rubble of her home north of Lacombe. Authorities say she was killed by a gunshot wound and not the fire.
"Knowing my sister, I knew that she would have had the resources and gumption to get out of that fire, so I knew from the start it was foul play," said Watson.
"We have gathered video surveillance throughout the community in this case," said Brant Thompson with the state fire marshal. "We are still awaiting lab results on key pieces of evidence."
"We are eager for them to turn over every stone that they could turn over to find out what happened to her, and who did this to bring this to justice," said Rando.
"There are forensic tests that will take some time to resolve," said James Hartman, a spokesman for the St. Tammany coroner's office.
"I have faith in the sheriff's office. we have been in constant contact as a family," said Watson.
Nanette's friends are pleased the case is now getting national attention.
"It is getting agencies that may not have been originally involved in the case may now be bringing in experts that possibly Louisiana doesn't have, so it doesn't become a cold case kind of thing," said Rando.
Arson investigators said this case is especially difficult because the fire had been burning for nearly an hour before anyone discovered it. They said those circumstances make evidence gathering difficult, but investigators said they are finding crucial clues, which are now being checked out.