The body of missing 12-year-old Talaija Dorsey has been found, a week after she was reported missing from her home in St. James Parish. Willy Martin Jr., the sheriff for St. James Parish, took to the podium for a press conference announcing that he had found the remains of the girl and he apologized for being so emotional, as he was visibly upset while informing the media, according to NOLA.com on July 7.
Martin himself had found the remains of Talaija Dorsey, when he went on his own looking for her in the area of a cane field. When the media asked a police spokesperson if this was something that Martin did often, search for a child alone, he said “He’s a very good law-enforcement officer.”
Talaija’s body was found in a wooded area behind a thick patch of grass just at the edge of the cane field that Martin set out to search. The body of the child was found only about a mile away from home where she lived with her mother and her mother's fiancee, who is now the lead suspect in this case. The sheriff would not comment on the condition of her body or the cause of the child’s death.
According to WGNO.com, foul play was suspected early on in this search for the child. Sheriff Willy Martin nearly broke down as he took to the podium to deliver the news of the child’s death.
Martin did say that he believed that Talaija was dead since the day she went missing, which was July 1. Talaija’s mother’s fiance’ John Celestine, 43, was originally named as a person of interest in the case has now been upgraded to “suspect.” He was charged with obstruction of justice early on in the case.
Celestine is being held at the St. James Parish jail in Convent and he has not been cooperative with investigators in this cased. Martin said that the scene where the body was found is now being processed for evidence and clues in this young girl’s death. Hopefully they will soon find something that will take the case forward, said Martin.
A picture of Talaija was carried around by Martin since the day she was reported missing. Martin said that the search for the girl has been the largest coordinated effort by the St. James Sheriff’s Department that he has seen in his 22 years on the force.
More than 100 volunteers helped comb the area for the child and law enforcement came from Livingston, Assumption, Jefferson, Ascension and St. Charles parishes to help the St. James Parish police in their search. Martin said that the autopsy results should be available in 24 hours.
Update 7/7 at 7 pm:
Sheriff Willie Martin would not describe the crime scene because the person who killed the girl is the only other one who knows what it looked like besides police. For investigation purposes he needed to keep it that way. The man who is the suspect in Talaija's death, John Celestine, was arrested for obstructing justice and giving false reports in the girl's disappearance.
Martin announced a few days ago that he was focusing his search along the route that Celestine took to work, specifically LA 3127. This was same highway where Dorsey’s body was found in a wooded area at the edge of a cane field, according to an update today from Channel 9 WAFB.
Because he knew that Celestine liked to fish and there was a large canal nearby, this is what led Martin to this area. His hunch was right because just four miles from the police substation, the child's body was found. He believes that whoever did kill Talaija worked alone. Celestine is the only suspect in the case right now.