‘Serial killer’: Joseph Brant, 48, has admitted to killing four women in New Orleans a decade ago
A suspected serial killer already convicted in a fatal stabbing in New Orleans was charged on Thursday with slaying three other women, among them a young San Francisco activist who was gunned down while visiting the city in 2008.
Joseph Brant, 48, was indicted on three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the cases going back a decade.
Brant already faced a mandatory life sentence in the 2008 killing of Jessica Lou Hawk, a 32-year-old botanist, in her New Orleans home.
He was finishing up an unrelated burglary sentence in a Texas prison when he recently confessed to the three other unsolved New Orleans killings, Cannizzaro said in a news release.
Brant now is charged in the 2007 slaying of an unidentified woman and that of another woman, identified as Jody Johnson, in January 2008. Both of the bodies in those cases were set afire.
Authorities said his third victim was 25-year-old Kirsten Brydum, killed while visiting from San Francisco in September 2008.
Justice for Kirsten: Brant, who was already convicted in a fatal stabbing, was indicted in the September 2008 shooting death of social activist Kirsten Brydum (left and right). The 25-year-old was visiting New Orleans from San Francisco when she was killed and robbed
She had been shot to death and robbed of her bicycle and tote bag, according to police.
Brydum was an organizer of a monthly San Francisco gathering at which people exchanged goods and services called the Really Really Free Market. She had arrived in New Orleans two days before her body was found.
‘This confession and indictment are the first steps toward bringing long-delayed justice to this defendant’s victims and their families,’ Cannizzaro said.
The news release said Cannizzaro dispatched an investigator to the prison outside Huntsville, Texas, after Brant told his attorneys he wanted to provide information on other unsolved killings in New Orleans in exchange for an agreement that he would not face the death penalty and that he would serve his sentences in a Louisiana penitentiary.
‘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,’ Cannizzaro said.
Cannizzaro said work has begun to immediately extradite Brant to New Orleans to face the new charges.
In exchange for his confession, Brant will be spared the death penalty for the killings.
All four murders attributed to Brant were carried out between October 2007 and September 2008.
During an interview on February 6, Brant told investigators that on October 17, 2007, he solicited an unnamed woman for sex, pulled a knife on her after she rejected his advance, then strangled her to death while trying to rape her.
In 2016, Brant pleaded guilty to stabbing to death Jessica Lou Hawk (left and right), a 32-year-old botanist, in her New Orleans home on August 11, 2008
Brant said he then placed the woman’s body inside a stolen car abandoned by the train tracks, doused her with gasoline and set her alight in order to cover up the murder, reported The Advocate.
On January 11, 2008, Brant said he saw Jody Johnson walking in the 7th Ward and solicited her for sex. He drove the woman to Piety Street, where she forced her to perform oral sex on him at gunpoint. Afterwards, Brant forced the victim out of the car, shot her in the head and set her body on fire.
On August 11, 2008, Brant stabbed Jessica Hawk, a botanist, inside her home on Chartres Street in Bywater.
The fourth victim was Byrdum, whose body was discovered in the 3000 block of Laussat Place in the Upper 9th Ward on September 27, 2008.
Brant confessed to the Hawk slaying in 2013 and three years later pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice.
A judge sentenced him to life in prison, to be served after he completed his previous 11-year sentence for an unrelated burglary conviction in Texas.
Brydum was a social activist who spent months traveling around the country to communities facing economic hardships, and writing about her experiences in her blog. New Orleans was supposed to be the last stop on her so-called Collective Autonomy tour.
Her final journal entry described arriving in New Orleans on September 25, where she was to spend just 36 hours before returning to San Francisco.
‘Right now I’m rolling into New Orleans. I really don’t know what to expect,’ Brydum wrote. ‘The sun is setting on the bayou-licked lands and I am truly fortunate.’
The woman’s family released a statement to Nola.com on Thursday’s addressing Joseph Brant’s murder confession.
‘We miss Kirsten’s radiance every day,’ wrote her father Steen Brydum. ‘We are relieved to know that the man who extinguished her incredible flame can never harm another woman.’