Dorsey’s body found

STAFF REPORT @dvillechief
Talaija Dorsey

After nearly a week of searching for 12-year-old Talaija Dorsey, St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. said Sunday he found her body at the edge of a cane field near a wooded area on La. 3127.

The discovery comes five days after the St. James community girl was discovered missing. Dorsey last was seen at her home on Pelican Street in St. James.

Dorsey's mother's fiancé, John Celestine, was arrested Wednesday, July 2 and booked with obstruction of justice in the case. Police said Celestine lived in the same house as Dorsey and her mother.

At that time, St. James authorities said Celestine was not cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

“It didn’t end up the way we was hoping,” Martin said at a Sunday afternoon news conference announcing the discovery of the body.

She had been missing since about 7 a.m. Tuesday when a friend stopped by her Pecan Street house so the two could go to summer camp together. When her mother, Emma Dorsey, went to get Talaija from her bedroom, the child was gone.

Martin said he discovered Talaija’s body behind a thick, grassy area in Vacherie at about 10:20 a.m. Sunday. He estimated her body had been there since Tuesday.

Celestine, 43, is a now a suspect in the child’s death.

Celestine was named a person of interest after he was arrested when deputies found a pair of Talaija’s slippers in an out-of-use minivan at the family’s home. He was booked on obstruction of justice and a count of false communications.

“We’re still holding that person,” Martin said of Celestine. “We’re hoping that we will find evidence at the scene that will help us.”

The sheriff said he would not release many details about the killing, the state of the body or the exact area where they found her.

“The person that killed her knows exactly how it looks and he won’t be able to say he heard it on TV,” Martin said. He added deputies are not sure if she was killed in the field or was later dumped there.

A cause of death will not be determined until an autopsy is completed. It was expected to be done this week.

Authorities had been searching areas in St. James, Assumption and Jefferson parishes where Celestine was known to frequent. Martin said Celestine worked in Jefferson Parish and owned land in Assumption Parish.

Martin said investigators are still running down other leads and interviewing people who may have information, including two people Martin said “we have to rule out” as possibly being involved; however, he said he doesn’t consider the two, whom he did not identify, as suspects. Investigators are trying to determine where the two were at the time the girl disappeared, Martin said.

“I took this picture home with me every day, put it on my kitchen table and left with it every morning,” Martin said as he held up a picture of the child. “And my guys can tell you I worked as many hours as they did, and I was determined to bring this case to closure.”