Gretna woman indicted for 2017 Uptown murder, fraudulent life insurance claim
February 20, 2020
For Immediate Release

Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Thursday (Feb. 20) secured a murder indictment against a Gretna woman accused of killing an Uptown man in November 2017 to claim a life insurance payout, after she drained the victim’s retirement savings account.

Yasha Ayers was charged with the second-degree murder of 65-year-old Darryl Lacoste, obstruction of justice, insurance fraud and bank fraud in the four-count indictment handed up by an Orleans Parish grand jury. Ayers, 45, faces a mandatory lifetime prison term if found guilty of the murder charge.

Lacoste was found dead in an alley in the 500 block of Robert Street on Nov. 22, 2017, two weeks after he had last reported to work. His wrists were bound, and his head was tightly covered with a dark plastic bag that had been taped around his throat. He appeared to have been dead for several days when found by residents of a nearby house.

New Orleans police homicide investigators learned of a relationship between Ayers and Lacoste, as well as recent withdrawals made from the victim’s retirement savings account.

Police later were contacted by a life insurance company that had questions regarding a policy taken out in early 2017 on Lacoste’s life, naming Ayers as the sole beneficiary.

Ayers was interviewed by police in June 2018, after a media notification was sent attempting to locate her as a “person of interest” in the homicide investigation. Ayers described Lacoste as an uncle figure whom she had not spoken with since March 2017.

Ayers initially was arrested in March 2019 on allegations of financial crimes, and was freed after posting a $6,000 bond. That bond obligation was allowed to lapse last August, as investigators continued building the murder case that culminated with today’s indictment.

Assistant District Attorney Abigail MacDonald presented the case to the grand jury.