HANCOCK COUNTY — HANCOCK COUNTY -- Terry Speaks' guilty plea to a crime unrelated to the killing of New Orleans dancer Jaren Lockhart means he will remain in custody until he's sentenced, while investigators try to solve the murder of the dismembered young woman.
Speaks pleaded guilty Sept. 4 to failing to register as a sex offender. He is being held for a Dec. 13 sentencing in federal court in Winston-Salem, N.C. Speaks, 39, faces up to 10 years in prison and could receive post-release supervision for five years to life.
"We anticipated that," said Glenn Grannan, chief investigator of the Hancock County Sheriff's Office.
Speaks and his girlfriend, Margaret Sanchez, 28, of Kenner, La., are still persons of interest in the killing of Lockhart, who disappeared after leaving her job at a Bourbon Street club June 6. Her body parts began to wash ashore here the next day.
Speaks and Sanchez are still "our primary suspects," Grannan said. The FBI crime lab last week said it would place a higher priority on processing items gathered as possible evidence in Lockhart's killing, he said.
Speaks and Sanchez were arrested on unrelated charges in a traffic stop, but detectives said they refused to talk about Lockhart.
Sanchez could not be reached for comment Thursday. A recorded message said her telephone number has been disconnected.
Speaks had been sought on a federal warrant on the sex-offender charge.
He was convicted April 17, 2006, of indecent liberties with a child in Surry County, N.C. Court papers show he signed a form in December 2008, before his release from prison, stating he was required to register as a sex offender for up to 10 years. A court document shows Speaks moved to Philadelphia and worked there from May 2011 until September 2011, but did not notify authorities.
How long he had lived in Louisiana isn't clear.
Lockhart, 23, was a single mother of a 3-year-old girl.
Speaks and Sanchez were linked to her murder after authorities said they found surveillance pictures of them leaving the Temptations club with Lockhart when she got off work June 6. Investigators said it was Speaks and Sanchez, who dyed their hair before their arrests.