A Mother’s Nightmare

Local

Five months ago, a tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico forever changed the lives of Lashae Senegal, her mother Marilyn Winfrey and their family.

LaShae says, “In my heart, I’m feeling that she’s still alive for some reason.”

Nearly 100 days ago, their beloved daughter and sister Juwanna Brooks went overboard a Carnival cruise ship on January 21, 2018, in the Gulf of Mexico near Cozumel.

It was her first cruise, and her last, leaving her family in a desperate search for answers.

Winfrey says “I can’t get any information because her spouse is still living and I, unfortunately, have no rights so no one is telling me anything.”

Winfrey says they have not even heard from her son-in-law Scott Brooks since her daughter left with him to go on the cruise.

Winfrey says weeks after Juwanna’s disappearance, Scott’s mother called to say that in time the truth will come out and in time he will talk to them.

Winfrey says Scott hasn’t picked up the phone or sent a text. She says, “I loved him like a son.”

News Ten traveled to Scott Brooks last known address in Franklin, Louisiana at a trailer park off of Columbia Store Lane where he lived with Juwanna.

His parents live next door.

No one answered either door so we went into town where everyone we approached did not want to be on camera or talk to us about him.

A check for records at the police department turned up nothing.

What we do know is the couple was married for 13 years, but they knew each other for nearly 20.

While she didn’t want to talk about their marriage on camera, Winfrey did tell us the two met where her daughter worked.

She says Juwanna obtained a psychology degree on a full academic scholarship from Dilliard University.

Juwanna worked at several behavioral hospitals and clinics in Lafayette.

Juwanna met Scott at one of them.

Winfrey says the couple had a troubled marriage with many heated arguments.

She says Juwanna and Scott were briefly separated in the fall of 2017 and had reunited during the holidays.

The cruise was a Christmas gift from Scott. 

Passenger accounts of that fateful night have offered Winfrey and her family some insight into what may have happened. 

Passengers claimed Juwanna and her husband Scott were arguing at dinner and were escorted out by ship security.

30 minutes later she went overboard. 

Juwanna’s best friend Brandi Welch remembers that fateful day saying, “I was going to call her that day but I didn’t because they were on a cruise. I wish I would have definitely contacted her”.

Five months later Winfrey says no one involved in the investigation has offered any answers that could bring her family closure.

She’s talked to officials with Carnival, the FBI and the Mexican Navy that conducted a week-long search for Juwanna. 

Winfrey says, “To tell you how I feel, I can’t because it’s like a part of me is missing and I still don’t believe she’s gone. I feel like she’s out there somewhere and she’s going to come back one way or the other, she’ll come back.”

Winfrey also says about month ago, the FBI officials out of New Orleans told her they turned over all of their findings to the state Attorney General and that investigation is still underway.

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