Entries in Baton Rouge (3)


Bald Eagle Missing from Baton Rouge Zoo

Credit: BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- A bald eagle that zoo officials thought couldn’t fly surprised everyone when it was spooked during a routine maintenance session and flew toward  his mesh enclosure with enough force to create a hole and escape, according to the zoo.

The unnamed male bald eagle came to the zoo about a year ago after wildlife rehabilitators found it injured and with broken bones.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife determined that it could not be re-released into the wild and needed a permanent home, according to Kaki Heiligenthal, the director of marketing for the Baton Rouge Zoo.

She said the zoo believed the eagle was unflighted, or had limited flight capabilities, until it became startled and took off.

“When he ran into the mesh at the top of the exhibit, it was hard enough to create a hole,” Heiligenthal told ABC News on Thursday. “It turns out he could fly a little bit better than we had originally anticipated and just took off and kept going.”

The eagle escaped on Wednesday morning. Zoo officials have been searching for it ever since and have asked  for the public’s help in locating the bird.

“We are actively searching,” Heiligenthal said. “We’ve been fielding a bunch of phone calls from people in the area who have seen birds that they believe to be the eagle and we’re recording all of those and looking into the ones that seem most likely.”

The zoo staff is searching the zoo grounds as well as the surrounding parks and neighborhoods. Heiligenthal said that eagles naturally gravitate toward high places.

“Eagles are not notoriously aggressive, but if someone tried to grab him or something, certainly he could become defensive,” she said. “The best thing to do would be to keep him within sight and give the zoo a call so we can send out the proper personnel to come collect him.

“It’s been a little over 24 hours, but we’re still very hopeful that we’ll find him,” Heiligenthal said.

The zoo is asking that anyone who may spot the eagle call it at (225) 775-3877.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Baton Rouge Police Hope They've Cracked 28-Year-Old Murder Case

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Investigators in Baton Rouge, La., say they may have cracked a 28-year-old cold murder case after re-arresting two suspects who were originally linked to the 1984 disappearance of a Louisiana businessman.

Leila Mulla, 57, was arrested by Louisiana investigators in New York City, and Ronald Dalton Dunnagan, 64, was arrested in Bossier City, La., Monday. The missing man, Gary Kergan, was last seen alive at Mulla's Baton Rouge home Nov. 29, 1984, police say.

Mulla, who, according to the Queens (N.Y.) District Attorney's office is now a registered nurse, was seen with Kergan, 29, on that night in 1984 at a Baton Rouge nightclub. Kergan was seen wearing flashy jewelry and carrying a significant amount of cash when they left in his Cadillac, police say.

Kergan and his brother owned a string of Sonic fast-food restaurants in Louisiana.

Baton Rouge Police Lt. Don Kelly, who was then a reporter in the city before joining the police force, said Kergan was specifically targeted by Mulla and Dunnagan.

"[Kergan and Mulla] met at the strip club. They [Mulla and Dunnagan] were robbing him of jewelry and cash," he told ABC News. "He [Kergan] flashed jewelry and money, drove the big Caddy....I don't know about their [Mulla and Dunnagan's] relationship, whether they were dating...or mentor-mentee."

Kelly said that when investigators searched Mulla's apartment at the time, there was blood and signs of an effort to clean it up.

Kergan's car was later found abandoned in Metairie, La. A significant amount of blood was located in the trunk of the car, Kelly said, but it could not be determined at the time whether it belonged to Kergan.

"Of course, speculation was that [the blood] was Kergan's. But the technology didn't exist, with DNA testing, to establish that. And his family didn't know his blood type. It made it almost impossible," Kelly said.

Mulla, an exotic dancer at the time, moved out of the apartment within a few days of Kergan's disappearance, Kelly said. She and Dunnagan went to Las Vegas, where they were arrested weeks later.

Investigators had also obtained Mulla's diary, in which she outlined a plan to rob Kergan, Kelly said.

After their arrest in December 1984, Mulla and Dunnagan were charged in connection with Kergan's death. Although they had a timeline of events placing Mulla with Kergan on the night he was last seen, and evidence of a possible crime in her apartment, it wasn't enough, Kelly said. With only circumstantial evidence against the two, the district attorney opted not to prosecute.

Kergan's body has not been found. He was declared legally dead by the courts in 1986. But investigators were able to make an arrest in the nearly 30-year-old murder case when, as part of cold case review, the blood in the car was re-examined.

In March of this year, Baton Rouge police placed Det. John Dotchier in charge of re-examining the department's hundreds of cold cases. Kergan's death became the first one in which the enthusiastic detective got a break when blood from Kergan's Cadillac was re-tested at the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab. DNA analysis showed that the blood belonged to Kergan.

"We've got hundreds of unsolved cases, and this one was looked at this year," Kelly said. "When he saw this one with the blood, he could have swung and missed. It's the first one he's solved."

Kelly said he district attorney's office believes that it now has enough evidence to convict Mulla and Dunnagan.

He has been charged with first-degree murder, she has been charged with second-degree murder and both have been charged with criminal conspiracy and simple robbery. They won't be arraigned until they are returned to Baton Rouge to face formal charges.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


America's Most Toxic Cities: Where Does Yours Rate?

Jupiterimages/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- Philadelphia has been ranked as the top city on a list that no city wants to be on -- the list of the most toxic cities in America.

The city best known for cheese steak sandwiches, is now also known for its toxicity, according to Forbes magazine, as Philadelphia sits atop Forbes' list of 2011 Most Toxic Cities. Other major cities at the top include New York City, which comes in at number four, and Los Angeles, one of four California cities in the top ten.

The list was determined by taking the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, and averaging their rankings in the following areas: air quality, water quality, the number of days when their Air Quality Index (AQI) was above 100 in 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), and Superfund sites -- areas in a city that contain hazardous waste, but are no longer in use. AQI is rated on a scale of zero to 500, with an AQI of over 100 capable of inducing respiratory problems for people with lung disease, and higher numbers bringing additional problems, according to Forbes.

The following is a list of the top 10 toxic cities:
1. Philadelphia
2. Bakersfield, Calif.
3. Fresno, Calif.
4. New York
5. Baton Rouge, La.
6. Los Angeles
7. Houston
8. St. Louis
9. Salt Lake City
10. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio