Four people are now in custody in connection to the death of a 46-year-old Pearl River man along the West Pearl River.
Authorities responded to a sand bar near the Davis Landing Boat Launch in Pearl River about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office said in a release.
There had been a fight between "two large groups of individuals," and Jeffery Howell died as a result of injuries sustained during the fight, Sheriff Randy Smith said.
The St. Tammany Parish Coroner's Office ruled the death a homicide on Monday, saying Howell died due to blunt force trauma to the head.
According to NOLA.com, it's believed the fight started on the sand bar after Howell tried to tell people to stop throwing bottles into the river.
Cameron Alphonso, 21, and Alden Kindergran, 22, both of Slidell, were arrested Sunday morning in connection with the fight, Alphonso on a manslaughter charge and Kindergran on a charge of disturbing the peace. After talking to witnesses and reviewing autopsy results, Alphonso's charge was upgraded to second-degree murder, Smith said.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday it has arrested a third person, Blaine Manalle, 20, of Slidell, on a charge of second-degree murder. Thomas Jones, 23, of Pearl River was arrested Tuesday on a charge of disturbing the peace. Smith said a warrant was issued for his arrest Monday and he was located Tuesday morning with help from the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office Marine Division at a camp on the Pearl River. Jones also was arrested on an unrelated contempt of court warrant for nonsupport totaling $7,052.
“I applaud the hard work, dedication and exhaustive efforts of our detectives who have worked long hours and interviewed in excess of 40 people in an effort to establish the probable cause necessary to make an additional arrest in connection with what took place Saturday evening,” Smith said.
According to The Advocate, Howell was a construction worker and avid fisherman.
“Jeff was always the one to make sure everybody got home safe and all the children were taken care of. He was a protector of sorts, I like to refer to him as. That was just his persona,” Pearl River resident and friend Janice O’Berry told The Advocate. “There’s a few men on this river we consider to be good old boys. They are avid fishers, hunters, and they know the river like the back of their hand.
"Jeffery was one of those.”
Friends of Howell's told NOLA.com the man had recently survived surgery to remove a brain tumor.
Manalle and Alphonso are being held at the St. Tammany Parish jail on $250,000 bonds. Kindergran was released Sunday afternoon on a $750 bond.