Body found in Iberville Parish identified as missing pregnant teacher

Body found in Iberville Parish identified as missing pregnant teacher - 6 p.m.
Published: Jun. 16, 2016 at 9:21 PM CDT
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Robert Marks (Source: EBRSO)
Robert Marks (Source: EBRSO)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The body found in Iberville Parish on Tuesday is the pregnant teacher who has been missing since last week, according to officials.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office was able to use dental records to positively identify the body as Lyntell Washington, 40, of Baton Rouge. She was reported missing last Thursday morning after her 3-year-old daughter was found in Baton Rouge alone near her vehicle, which had blood inside it.

An autopsy that was performed by the the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office on Wednesday revealed Washington died from a gunshot wound to the head and as a result, her unborn child died as well. The coroner said there was no trauma to the fetus.

On Wednesday, Dr. Beau Clark, the parish coroner, said the body was so badly decomposed that they needed DNA samples to make a positive identification. Investigators from several agencies assisted in processing the scene Tuesday after a farmer in Rosedale found Washington's body.

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Authorities began search efforts last Friday for the missing woman who was once named "Teacher of the Year" and currently teaches at Brookstown Middle Magnet Academy. Crews were deployed in the air, on land, and in the water for much of the day Friday, searching five key areas across south Louisiana, including Baker, Zachary, Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, and Ramah. The multi-agency search was temporarily suspended at nightfall on Friday.

The assistant principal of the Baton Rouge middle school where Washington works was arrested in connection with her disappearance. Robert Jovantie Marks, 39, was charged with aggravated kidnapping and child desertion charges because Washington's child was left abandoned in a parking lot.

Police said Saturday that Marks had gotten a lawyer and refused to cooperate with the investigation. With the body now identified as Washington, police will likely question Marks again. He remains in custody. The 19th Judicial District Attorney's Office said Marks will likely face additional charges, including murder and feticide.

Marks is married to another woman and police suspect he might have been fearful his wife would find out he had gotten Washington pregnant, according to police records. Police said 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, June 8. Both phones were in that area for about 15 minutes before returning to Baton Rouge, according to police documents.

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 detectives also learned 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 Washington was the 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year. They also confirmed that Marks is the assistant principal at the same school and has been placed on administrative leave.

EBR superintendent Warren Drake released the following statement Thursday afternoon after police identified Washington:

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Lyntell Washington and her unborn baby. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this time of sadness. We are grateful that now they may begin to find some closure. Ms. Washington was a treasured member of our team, and will be remembered for the impact she had on the many lives she touched through her work in our district. We will continue to offer support to Ms. Washington's coworkers and students during this difficult time."

Washington's child was turned over to family members.

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