Northshore officials disagree about death of fire chief's wife

News conference today

September 14, 2017 - 6:30 am

(AP / WWL)  The St. Tammany Sheriff has called a news conference today to dispute findings from the coroner in a high profile Northshore death.  

The coroner says somebody killed the fire chief's wife before her house burned down. The sheriff says his investigation doesn't necessarily agree that Nanette Krentel's death was a homicide.

Two autopsies and a forensic reconstruction all indicate homicide, the St. Tammany Parish coroner, Dr. Charles Preston, said in a news release Wednesday.

"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 statement said.

Krentel's husband is St. Tammany District 12 Fire Chief Stephen Krentel.

Her body was found in her home in the Lacombe area after firefighters put out a blaze July 14.

DNA evidence confirmed her identity. The coroner's office reported in July that she'd died from a bullet wound.

Preston said Krentel's remains were sent to the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services lab at Louisiana State university after the initial autopsy. Its report arrived in early September, he said.

Click for more from the coroner and to listen to his interview with WWL First News...

Last week, Preston said, he asked a second pathologist to conduct an autopsy, and a pathologist hired by Krentel's father and sisters conducted one on Tuesday. He said the independent pathologist did not disclose his findings but has agreed to send his report to Preston's office.

"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."

Sheriff Randy Smith said he'll hold a news conference about the case today with representatives from the state Fire Marshal's Office.

"At this time, the Sheriff's Office investigation does not necessarily support the Coroner's conclusion in this case," his statement said.

Preston said he will not release further autopsy details until the sheriff's office completes its case.

He did tell WWL First News, however, that Krentel was shot in the head before the home was burned.

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