By Kevin McGill | Associated Press | March 22, 2022

NEW ORLEANS — Four teenagers face murder charges in connection with a carjacking that left a 73-year-old woman dying on a New Orleans street, her arm severed after she was dragged a block by her own car while neighbors looked on helplessly, officials said Tuesday.

Police chief Shaun Ferguson said tips led to the arrests of the teens — a 17-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and two 15-year-old girls — in the hours after the Monday afternoon carjacking. Two were turned in by their parents. All face second-degree murder charges, and Ferguson said he will recommend that they be charged as adults

“That’s a conversation that my team will have with the district attorney’s office,” Ferguson said at a Tuesday morning news conference. “I would say absolutely, I encourage, I will ask, that they be charged as adults. … I mean, look at the nature of the crime.”

Ferguson confirmed that Linda Frickey died after she become entangled in a seatbelt as carjackers sped away with her vehicle.

“The door had closed on the seatbelt, but she was stuck in it,” resident Todd Ecker told WVUE-TV on Monday. “I got out of my vehicle, screaming for them, ‘Please stop, you’re dragging a lady.’ Other neighbors were also screaming at them.”

A tearful Leanne Mascar and her husband Mark Mascar tried to comfort the victim as she died at the scene.

“I was telling this woman to hang in there,” Mark Mascar told the TV station. “Every time I heard a siren, I was hoping and praying that was an ambulance.”

On Tuesday morning, Ferguson credited the arrests to police working throughout the night and information from a variety of sources, including two suspects’ parents.

“The parents of one 15-year-old female immediately called our investigators and turned their daughter in,” Ferguson said, adding that the parents of another suspect followed with more information that led to an arrest.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision on behalf of these parents,” Ferguson said.

Monday afternoon’s gruesome carjacking death came hours after police reported a triple-homicide in another part of the city. Police said three people were found dead in an apartment in the Gentilly neighborhood. The victims, two men and a woman, had all been shot. No suspects have been identified and police were asking for the public’s help for information on the shootings.

New Orleans’ homicide total for the year rose to 61 with the four deaths. The nonprofit watchdog group, the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said that as of Sunday, homicides in the city were up 43% over the year before and 97% compared with 2019.