Mother of slain tourist: 'Don't let this be your city's reputation'

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It was the horrific New Year's Day incident that outraged and sickened many people in New Orleans and around the country two years ago, and for Joshua Woodruff's family those feeling have never faded.

"It's as horrifying today as it was then," said Joshua's mother, Caren Woodruff. "I've talked to more of his friends who said they always felt better after being with him. That's the guy who's gone now."

Around 3 a.m. the morning of New Year's Day 2016, Woodruff, a tourist from Nebraska, was celebrating with friends in the French Quarter.

New Orleans police investigators say while walking near the intersection of Dumaine and Decatur, someone driving a dark-colored four-door sedan hit Woodruff, then dragged him from the French Quarter to I-10 and across the Crescent City Connection.

Woodruff's body was found 30 minutes later on the West Bank Expressway near the General DeGaulle exit.

"[He was] shredded from one end for six miles. That's how my son's life ended. You couldn't, out of compassion for him and those who loved him, come forward?" Caren Woodruff said. " It's terrible. It's unbelievable to me that this really happened to him."

The only surveillance from the area that night recorded dark and grainy video due to the time of day and the rain, and the video was not clear enough to get a license plate number from the vehicle.

A year after his death, investigators released a composite sketch from information given by a witness on scene.

However, up to this point, the investigation has revealed little, and at times has been tumultuous.

The lack of progress and internal struggles within the department led NOPD to take the traffic fatality unit commander off the case and put homicide detective Rob Barrere in charge of the investigation. The change brought a much-needed renewal of faith for the Woodruffs.

"Absolutely disappointing that it's two year later, but - and I really want to make sure that you put the 'but' in - but I'm really hopeful with Rob. He's given me hope," Caren Woodruff said.

The investigation has uncovered new leads. This month, NOPD released images of two people who may have witnessed the crime. Police want to question them to see if they remember anything from that night.

"Josh is near and dear to us, but there are other people who have lost people in New Orleans. Go after it. Don't let this be your city's reputation," Woodruff said.

New Orleans police say the investigation into Woodruff's killing remains open and active, and detectives continue to investigate all leads.

Crimestoppers is offering a $15,000 reward for anyone with information leading to an arrest in the case.

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