NOPD names suspect in Jessica Hawk cold case



Jessica Hawk
  • Jessica Hawk

The New Orleans Police Department issued an arrest for Joseph Brant in connection with the 2008 murder of Jessica Hawk, a 32-year-old Bywater resident found stabbed in her home on Chartres Street.

Hawk moved from Ohio to Uptown New Orleans in 2003. She evacuated the city before Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures then moved into Bywater two months later. Hawk worked as an entomologist with the Audubon Institute and was awarded the first post-Katrina scholarship for graduate study in the biology department at the University of New Orleans. She was scheduled to begin a new job at the New Orleans Botanical Garden at City Park the week following her death.

In 2010, friends and family built a memorial marker and garden for Hawk on the neutral ground at the neighborhood marker on St. Claude Avenue. The Justice for Jessica campaign launched to promote peace and shed light on her murder, and Crimestoppers increased its reward from the standard $2,500 to $25,000.

In September 2013, NOPD Detective Winston Harbin traveled to Beaumont, Texas to interview prison inmate Brant, who currently is serving 11 years for burglary. According to NOPD, Brant confessed to stabbing Hawk. Brant may face second degree murder charges in New Orleans. Brant has previously been arrested for cocaine possession, possession of stolen property and criminal damage to property, among other offenses.

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