Suspect from Mississippi identified in January home invasion on Jena

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John Sholar (via NOPD)

Police have identified a Mississippi man as a suspect in a violent January home invasion on Jena Street in Uptown New Orleans, and are continuing to investigate the possibility that he may also be involved in a similar case from the same week on Tchoupitoulas, they said.

John Sholar, 23, is wanted on a charge of aggravated burglary in connection with the Jan. 31 invasion of a home in the 2000 block of Jena, police said this weekend. In that case, two men knocked on the door, asked the woman who answered if her fiance was inside, then forced their way in, tying her up and beating her while they ransacked the house in search of a safe, police said at the time.

The attack on Jena Street happened only a day after a similar home invasion in the 4800 block of Tchoupitoulas, in which a woman alone at her house was also tied up while the intruder searched her house for a safe. The two burglaries bore such similarities that police believed they were connected, but with no discernible link between the two actual victims, investigators finally concluded that the suspects may have mistaken the Tchoupitoulas woman, the popular New Orleans Twitter personality @Liz_Money, for the woman in the subsequent Jena Street case.

Over the last several weeks, Detective Guy Swalm was able to identify Sholar as the man responsible for that burglary, and that he is from Waveland, Miss., said Lt. Mike Montalbano of the NOPD Second District. Until Sholar is brought into custody and investigators can speak to him, however, Montalbano said it remains unclear what his motive was for the Jena case and whether he was also responsible for the break-in on Tchoupitoulas.

With such limited information, news that a suspect had been identified on Jena Street was of little comfort to Liz, the Tchoupitoulas victim whose full name UptownMessenger.com has agreed to withhold to avoid exposing her to further danger. The intruder in her house attacked her from behind and blindfolded her, so she never saw his face, she said.

The attack, however, has taken its toll: Liz has never gone back to live at the house since the invasion, and is now looking to sell it.

“No one I know is going to rent it. It’s still really weird to be over there, because I just don’t know what the deal is,” Liz said in a phone conversation Monday, that same uncertainty still clouding her reaction to Sholar’s identification. “It’s a lot to process.”

Contact Robert Morris at rmorris@NolaMessenger.com, or post your comment below.

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