Coroner rules death of fire chief's wife is homicide

Sheriff's office "does not necessarily support" conclusion

Jim Hanzo
September 13, 2017 - 10:02 am
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St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston says the death of the wife of a Northshore fire chief is a homicide, but the sheriff's office says it's investigation "does not necessarily support" that finding.

Nanette Krentel's body was found in the rubble after a fire destroyed her home north of Lacombe on Friday, July 7.  Coroner's Office investigators have treated the case as a homicide from the beginning, but due to the extent of damage to the remains, significant examination was required in addition to the initial autopsy.

"The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head, and the manner of death was a homicide," the coroner told WWL First News.

However, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith's office today put out a statement that said his office "does not necessarily support the Coroner’s conclusion in this case." Smith has scheduled a news conference for tomorrow morning to discuss the investigation.

Listen to the coroner:

Coroner Charles Preston for web 9-13-17.mp3


 
Following an autopsy at the Coroner's Office in Lacombe, Krentel's remains were sent to the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Lab, where anthropologists conducted further study.  Preston received the report from FACES in early September.  Preston also met with investigators from the state Fire Marshal's Office to review their findings from the scene.
 
Last week, Preston asked a second pathologist in his office to conduct an autopsy, and she reached the same conclusions.  Yesterday, a pathologist hired by Krentel's father and sisters also autopsied the remains.
 
"Even before the second and third autopsies and the FACES Lab's report, there was adequate evidence to rule the death a homicide," Preston said.  "Because of the complexity and sensitivity of the investigation, however, we wanted to give this case the utmost attention and thoroughness.  The victim's remains have now undergone three autopsies and a forensic reconstruction.  Based on information I have received from FACES anthropologists, the State Fire Marshal, and our two pathologists, I am entirely comfortable in declaring this death a homicide."
 
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office is still investigating the case, and Preston will not release additional details of the autopsies or FACES Lab findings.  The independent pathologist did not disclose his findings yesterday but agreed to send his report to Preston's office.
 
"We have worked closely with law enforcement from the start of this investigation and will continue to do so," Preston said.  "The criminal investigation remains ongoing, and I will not release further details until that element of the case is resolved or reaches a conclusion."

However, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith's office today put out a statement that said his office "does not necessarily support the Coroner’s conclusion in this case." Smith has scheduled a news conference for tomorrow morning to discuss the investigation.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office said in July that DNA evidence confirmed the identity of the victim to be Nanette Krentel, the wife of St. Tammany District 12 Fire Chief Stephen Krentel.

Krentel's body was found in her home in the Lacombe area after firefighters put out the blaze on July 14. The fire investigation is being handled by the state Fire Marshal's Office. The Major Crimes unit of the Sheriff's Office is investigating the shooting death.

The victim's husband was reportedly at work at the time of the homicide and fire.

Investigators have not publicly named any suspects.

 

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