D.A.: Man confesses to serial murders in New Orleans

Chris Miller
February 08, 2018 - 1:15 pm

The New Orleans District Attorney's Office says a 48-year-old man has admitted murdering three people in New Orleans a decade ago. A grand jury has subsequently indicted Joseph Brant.

According to the D.A.'s office, Brant, who has already pleaded guilty to the 2008 murder of Jessica Hawk in New Orleans, confessed to the murders last week during an interview in a Texas prison.

"During that interview, Brant implicated himself in three additional unsolved murders, cementing his role as a New Orleans serial killer who took the lives of at least four women between October 2007-September 2008," according to the statement from Leon Cannizzaro's office. "The indictment was read by Criminal District Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson, who set a $1 million bond on each of the three counts."

The news release says Brant has been serving time in Texas on an unrelated burglary charge, and made it known through his attorneys that he wished to confess to the killings in exchange for not being subject to the death penalty.

"Brant revealed specific details of three additional New Orleans murders," the D.A.'s office said. "The details provided by Brant had not been divulged to the public, and could reasonably be known only by the perpetrator of the crimes and investigators."

Prosecutors say Brant admitted to the following crimes:

The October 17, 2007 murder of an unidentified woman, thought to be a prostitute. According to the news release, Brant said he had solicited the woman for sex, threatened her at knifepoint, then strangled her to death before dousing her body with gasoline and setting it on fire.

The January 11, 2008 murder of Jody Johnson, another suspected prostitute. The D.A.'s office said Brant admitted forcing the woman to perform oral sex on him while he pointed a gun at her head, then later fatally shooting her before pouring gasoline on her body and light it on fire.

The September 27, 2008 murder of Kirsten Brydum. Brydum, a 25-year-old social activist from San Francisco, was found shot to death in the 3000 block of Laussat Place in the Upper 9th Ward. Her bicycle and tote bag had been stolen.

Cannizzaro's office said they expect a guilty plea from Brant, perhaps as early as his arraignment date, which has not been set.

"This confession and indictment are the first steps toward bringing long-delayed justice to this defendant’s victims and their families," Cannizzaro said. "The expected guilty pleas and mandatory life sentences that will follow cannot bring back the loved ones, but hopefully can provide some degree of closure for these grieving families.

"Our investigators will continue their work interviewing this defendant until we are satisfied that there are no other unsolved killings for which he is responsible."

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