Jaren Lockhart's family speaks out for the first time

Published: Jun. 13, 2012 at 6:07 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2012 at 2:08 PM CDT
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Jaren Lockhart, 22 (NOPD)
Jaren Lockhart, 22 (NOPD)

New Orleans, LA --The family of a New Orleans woman who was murdered and dismembered says it wants to remember 23-year-old Jaren Lockhart as a young woman who always had a smile on her face and a deep love for her now three-year-old daughter. Lockhart's gruesome murder shocked the Gulf Coast when remains of her dismembered body began washing up on a Bay St. Louis beach in Mississippi last week Thursday.

"It's been killing me for the lat few days. Everybody says be strong. But its hard to be strong," said Lockhart's mother, Donna. "It's like somebody ripped my heart out of my body."

"I'm numb, just dead on the inside," said father, Pete Singer.

For her brother Lance who she affectionately nicknamed Bubba, what's most haunting for him is that he couldn't be there for the little sister he says he protected all his life.

"You know what is running through my head; that's what's running through my head. Bubba help me and I ain't there," said Lance.

He says he last heard from her two weeks ago when she reached out to him in Tangipahoa Parish from New Orleans asking him to come and get her. But days passed and he had trouble reaching her again. Then he learned the disturbing news from his mother that his sister was missing and then later learned that she was dead.

"I feared she was going to die just because she was living in New Orleans," said Donna.

While they would have rather she didn't work at a gentlemen's club in New Orleans, they also admit that dancing at the Temptations Club was a job she did out of necessity to help support her and her little girl. The little girl had been living with the child's grand-parents.

"She needed money to stay afloat. She was going through hard times," says her friend Kristina Suzzanne Murphy. They say it is also hurtful to see the degrading comments people are posting about her because of what she did to make a living. "They didn't live with her. They don't know who she was. How are you going to talk about someone and not know who they are," said Lance. "She was more than a stripper, she was a wonderful mother and she was a great friend," said her aunt Alice Swain.

They say working in a gentlemen's club on Bourbon Street is not something she aspired to do long term. They say she had plans to go back to school and get a degree in cosmetology. Her loved ones are also adamant that most likely she knew her killer. "That's the way we raised her. You won't get in a car with a stranger. You don't go with a stranger. I don't think it was a stranger that did this," said Pete. They also say it was in her nature to fight if she was caught up in a struggle its why they believe her remains may hold many D.N.A clues about her killer.

"They say they found her head. Check her teeth; my sister doesn't play. When you're fighting with her, she will try to bite the biggest hole out of you she can; that's how she was," said Lance.

It's a case they know will also depend on help from the public. Its why they're pleading for anyone with information to come forward."I want peace for my grandbaby and justice for my grandbaby," said Donna.

The family has set up a memorial fund for Jaren Lockhart. You can make donations at any Whitney or Hancock bank in Louisiana and Mississippi.