- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Baton Rouge police suspect foul play in the disappearance of a pregnant woman after her 3-year-old daughter was found alone near her mother’s vehicle and a middle school assistant principal was arrested in connection with the case.

Police said Robert Marks, 39, was arrested Friday on charges of kidnapping of a child and child desertion. Police were searching for Lyntell Washington, the child’s 40-year-old mother, in a swampy area west of Baton Rouge in Iberville Parish.

Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a police spokesman, said Marks and Washington were in a relationship and that she is seven months pregnant with his child. School officials said she works at a middle school where Marks is an assistant principal.

A police report said a co-worker told investigators that Marks is married and Washington had threatened to tell his wife about his extra-marital relationship.

McKneely said police suspect foul play in Washington’s disappearance. “We know they had an argument; we know they were arguing,” McKneely said Friday afternoon. “From detailed information we’ve gathered, from our investigation, along with the blood found inside her car, we believe foul play was involved.”

The police report said the child was found Thursday morning and that she led police officers to her mother’s vehicle.

Officer said they found a lot of blood inside the car and the girl told investigators that Marks “had hurt her mother,” according to the police report. The girl also said she was with her mother and Marks when she heard a “bang” and saw her mother shaking.

The girl also told authorities her mother was “sleeping” and that she was “in the lake,” the police report said.

On Friday, police were searching an area of the Atchafalaya Basin in Iberville Parish. Cellular phone tracking data showed the couple’s telephones were in that area Wednesday night, the police report said. The Atchafalaya is a swampy river area. McKneely said the search would continue until nightfall.

Adonica Pelichet Duggan, an East Baton Rouge Parish school system spokeswoman, told The Advocate (http://bit.ly/25RSl7V ) that Marks is an assistant principal at Brookstown Magnet Honors Academy and that Washington is an instructional specialist at the school. Marks was placed on administrative leave after his arrest.

It was unclear if Marks had a lawyer. The Baton Rouge public defender’s office did not return a message seeking comment.

McKneely said Marks was not forthcoming with information. In the police report, Marks said he last saw Washington on Thursday evening at a Wal-Mart in Baker, Louisiana.

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