Police suspend search for missing pregnant teacher; assistant principal arrested

VIDEO: Search for missing Teacher of the Year
Robert Marks (Source: EBRSO)
Robert Marks (Source: EBRSO)
Detectives searching waterway in Rhamah for missing woman (Source: WAFB)
Detectives searching waterway in Rhamah for missing woman (Source: WAFB)
Detectives searching waterway in Rhamah for missing woman (Source: WAFB)
Detectives searching waterway in Rhamah for missing woman (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - If viewing this story on a mobile device or in an email, click the link for additional features - http://bit.ly/1XemRXQ

Police have suspended their search for a pregnant Baton Rouge teacher, who went missing Wednesday evening, after they spent much of the day Friday searching several areas, including Baker, Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, Zachary and Ramah.

Cpl. L'Jean McKneely with the Baton Rouge Police Department confirmed investigators do not plan to resume the search Saturday morning after an exhaustive search in the air, water and wooded areas.

"We have boats in the area, we have ATVs, we have guys on foot, we have guys riding up and down the interstate. They're getting out of their cars to check in the shoulder. We're trying to cover as many bases as possible," McKneely said.

The assistant principal of the Baton Rouge middle school where she works has been arrested in connection with her disappearance.

Authorities converged on a waterway in Ramah, located in Iberville Parish, which became the center of the search efforts Friday afternoon as they searched for the missing woman who was once named "Teacher of the Year" and currently teaches at Brookstown Middle Magnet Academy.

McKneely said they are following all leads, but the search was suspended at nightfall Friday.

The teacher, 40-year-old Lyntell Washington, was reported missing Thursday morning after her 3-year-old daughter was found alone near her vehicle in Baton Rouge. Blood was found inside the vehicle.

A Good Samaritan discovered the girl and said he immediately knew something was horribly wrong.

"It was actually shocking, first of all, to see the little girl out there by herself, and it's kind of upsetting that no one was out there and then to see all that blood I just knew something had gone terribly wrong with someone, whoever she was with," said Leslie Parms.

The assistant principal, Robert Jovantie Marks, 39, faces aggravated kidnapping and child desertion charges because Washington's child was left abandoned in a parking lot.

Marks is married to another woman and police suspect he might have been fearful that his wife would find out that he had gotten the teacher pregnant, according to police records.

Police say cell phone records show Marks' phone as well as a phone belonging to Washington were in the Ramah area around 9:45 p.m. Wednesday. Both phones were in that area for about 15 minutes before returning to Baton Rouge, according to police documents

Investigators said foul play is suspected.

According to the probable cause report, the child told investigators that "'Mr. Robbie' hurt her mother and was now sleeping." It also revealed the child was with her mother and Marks "when she heard a 'bang' and after the bang her mom was 'shaking.' She also stated that her mom's in the lake and that it was dark outside when her mom got hurt."

McKneely said that detectives also learned that Marks took Washington's 3-year-old daughter for a ride on Wednesday night and left her unattended in a parking in the 11000 block of Newcastle Avenue.

Officials with the East Baton Rouge Parish School System confirmed that Washington was the 2014-15 Teacher of the Year.

"Our thoughts are with the family of Brookstown Middle Instructional Specialist Lyntell Washington as we remain hopeful for her safe return to family and friends soon," said Adonica Dougan, spokesperson for EBR Schools. "[She] is a valued member of the East Baton Rouge Parish System team."

They also confirmed that Marks is the assistant principal at the same school and has been placed on administrative leave.

Washington's child was turned over to family members.

Anyone with information about Washington's whereabouts are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 225-344-7867 or Missing Persons at 225-389-8617.

Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.