ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. (WGNO) — More than five years after a dismembered, decomposing body was found in Louisiana, a chilling discovery of a human foot in Mississippi has led detectives to identify the victim.
On Friday, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith identified the victim in the homicide investigation as a man named Kleanthis Konstantinidis. Back in July of 2016, a passerby found Konstantinidis’ body in the Rigolets, a deepwater strait that connects Lake Pontchartrain to Lake Borgne, which ultimately feeds into the Gulf of Mexico.
Initial reports from the sheriff’s office said the body was missing both arms and one leg that had been dismembered below the knee. Additionally, there was a scar on the victim’s chest, potentially from open heart surgery.
Deputies said the body was in such a decayed state that they were unable to determine the person’s age and race, however, more information was revealed following the autopsy. What they knew was that the victim was 5-foot-10, about 65 years old, and had died of blunt-force trauma to the head.
Despite the years of work chasing several potential leads, investigators were stymied when it came to learning the identities of the victim and potential killer. Then, investigators got a break thanks to a shocking discovery during a natural death investigation in Mississippi.
In April of 2019, the Biloxi Police Department was investigating the death of a man named Phillip Pointer, who was believed to have died of natural causes. During that investigation, police learned that a human foot had been discovered in a bucket on Pointer’s property.
Although they didn’t know it yet, the discovery of that foot would bring answers that deputies had been seeking for years: DNA from the foot was matched to the body dumped in the Rigolets almost three years before.
Sheriff Smith says the foot sparked new leads in the investigation, including several interviews and a new amount of evidence to comb through. This came with the help of the LSU FACES Lab, Biloxi Police, and the DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit that uses genealogy to identify unknown deceased persons.
At last, the STPSO was able to find a living relative of the victim who was residing in the northern United States. A DNA sample from the relative compared to the victim confirmed that the body belonged to Konstantinidis.
But a question still remains: Was Phillip Pointer involved? For the moment, detectives are not sure. So far, deputies have deemed the deceased Pointer as the primary suspect in the investigation. However, there is still work to be done to determine when, where, and how Konstantinidis died. Sheriff Smith says his office is working closely with the Biloxi Police Department in the investigation.