Investigator: Escaped killer Barnes is street-smart, cold-blooded

Published: Jan. 4, 2013 at 3:08 AM CST|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:56 PM CDT
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New details are emerging about a New Orleans woman convicted of manslaughter who escaped from the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel Tuesday.

Keana Barnes is a cold, soul-less killer, according to former NOPD homicide detective Ronald Ruiz.

"She's very street-smart," Ruiz told us.  "If she has to, she will do what she has to do to get what she needs done."

Ruiz first met Barnes in 2003, while investigating the murder of Perry Jennings, Jr. "As Perry was sleeping, she took a pistol which we still believe is Perry's, she wrapped it up into a pillowcase as a silencer and ultimately shot Mr. Jennings in the head," Ruiz explained.

At the time, Barnes was out on bond for another killing, for which she was ultimately convicted.

Immediately after Jennings was killed in Algiers, Barnes fled to Mexico.  That's where she was arrested a short time later.  She was incarcerated in St. Gabriel.

But early Tuesday morning, Barnes broke out of prison.  "I imagine she was planning something from the beginning to get out," Ruiz commented.

Barnes' ex-husband, Clinton Lewis Jr., says he's not surprised.  "You can put handcuffs on her and throw her in a cell, but the bottom line is, the minute you turn your back, she's out of there," Lewis said.

Although retired, Ruiz is now helping U.S. Marshals in their search for Barnes.  Ruiz said, "She is capable of killing again and if she stays out there, there's a possibility that someone could be killed."

Lewis is hoping Barnes doesn't come after him.  He claims she already tried to kill him once while they were married, and he says she wasn't happy that he divorced her.  He moved to a new city and says he knows how to protect himself, just in case.

"There are wolves that look like dogs but they're still wolves and that's what we're dealing with here. We're dealing with Keana and she's a wolf," Lewis said.

Ruiz thinks Barnes is heading south of the border, saying, "She does have contacts in Mexico. I've provided what information I have to the Marshal Service of the individual that she may be going to.  But ultimately, I think that's the direction she's heading."

Barnes' ex-husband says, if she is caught, she won't go back willingly.

Barnes shaved her head about a week before she escaped.  If you see her, or know about her whereabouts, call 911.