Dante Constanza
Dante Constanza

Local mom claims her son was murdered. So why aren’t police investigating?

BAKER — Veronica Constanza is on a mission to secure justice for her son, whom she believes was murdered nearly two years ago.

Constanza recently discussed the case on Louisiana Unfiltered, an Unfiltered with Kiran podcast, expressing her continuous plea to the police to reopen her son’s case. She alleges that critical clues pointing to her son’s murder on August 4, 2022, are being ignored.

“The case is deemed accidental at this time”

Constanza explains that her son Dante, aged 20, was convinced by his friends to film a music video in the woods in Baker.

“My son didn’t want to go; he was basically talked into going,” she explained. “He doesn’t know anything about Baker.”

However, since one of his friends is from Baker, Constanza believes Dante, an aspiring musician and YouTube creator, went along with them. A few hours after Dante left, around 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2022, Constanza received a call from her son’s phone instructing her to go to Our Lady of the Lake in Baton Rouge as her son was in critical condition.

Upon reaching the hospital, Constanza found her son in very bad shape, and he was pronounced dead the next day. The Baker Police Department classified his death as an accident.

The events of that day in the woods remain a mystery, with varying reasons for Dante and his friends’ presence. While Costanza claims they were filming a music video, she was also told he fell from a deer stand. Others assert the trio was climbing a water tower, and Dante fell during that climb.

The police report filed regarding Dante’s death identifies the two young men with him that night. Since they are not charged with any crimes, UWK has decided not to name them.

According to the report, the two friends arrived with Dante at the scene and entered the woods to talk about their lives as they “usually do.” One friend claimed he decided to climb a tree and was about 10 feet up when he “suddenly” slipped and fell. The detective stated in the report, “Based on the interviews and injuries of the victim, detectives believe at this time that this is an accidental fall and that no foul play is suspected. Therefore, the case is deemed accidental at this time.”

What happened in the woods?

Constanza believes crucial details about her son’s death are being overlooked by the police. She claims to have seen footage filmed before her son’s death, noting the absence of a deer stand and an abrupt end to the recording.

“Anybody that falls from a tree is going to have a scrape, scratch, splinter, or something,” she said, emphasizing that Dante did not display noticeable injuries expected from a significant fall. “Falling 10 feet is not going to give you blunt force trauma to the front and back of the head. It’s not going to do it. His neck wasn’t broken. His spine wasn’t broken.”

Constanza states that doctors informed her that while the blunt force trauma left her son brain dead, he likely died due to water in his lungs. She mentions a week of heavy rain in the area and claims doctors explained that Dante would have had to fall from at least 50 feet to sustain the injuries he had. She also notes that no autopsy was performed to determine the exact cause of death. However, the East Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office was told by Baker police officers that Dante died from an accidental fall, and that is why they did not perform an autopsy.

She also claims that she received an Instagram message in October 2022 from a woman claiming to have information about her son’s death. According to the messages, the woman heard one of the young men with Dante admitting to killing him. The same woman spoke with UWK and repeated the same story that one of the men with Dante the night he was killed, lost his temper and allegedly killed Dante.

Constanza tells UWK that she shared this information with Baker police, but claims nothing has been investigated.

Ignoring evidence?

The grieving mother questions other aspects of the investigation, suggesting that police should have retained Dante’s vehicle as evidence. Instead, she says she was able to drive it away from where her son parked it before he died.

She also claims that Dante’s wallet was in the vehicle with no money or credit cards inside. And red splotches she noticed along the dashboard by the steering wheel were later determined not to be blood, according to police documents.

Constanza also notes that the inside passenger side of her son’s vehicle was wet and muddy, raising doubts about her son returning alone from the woods.

“So if my son never made it back out of the woods, then how do they have muddy water on the passenger side?”

She accuses police of not adequately examining nearby surveillance video. A business across from where her son’s vehicle was parked allegedly had cameras covering the entire parking lot. However, Baker police reportedly told her that the cameras only covered the front and back doors of the building. Costanza says when she called the same business, she was told they have cameras all around their building and they all work.

“My son needs justice,” she said. “I believe his case was swept under the rug. It’s a lot of cover-ups.”

‘No evidence other than an accident’

Constanza states that she went to speak to Baker Police Chief Carl Dunn in 2022 but claims the next time she heard from him wasn’t until January 2024 after she posted about the circumstances surrounding her son’s death on TikTok.

UWK called and spoke with Dunn during an interview with Constanza for Louisiana Unfiltered. He says that he has had a “lengthy discussion in person” about her son’s case. He mentions that the Instagram message was never forwarded to him.

“There was absolutely no evidence, Kiran, that we found that indicated that this was anything other than an accident,” Chief Dunn explained. “We exhausted all avenues in this case. If a crime was committed, we’re going to investigate. But we’re not going to create a crime.”

“I can understand the mother’s grieving. And if you ask me, the mother is 100% being taken advantage of.”

At this time, it remains unclear whether Baker PD plans to reopen Dante’s case.

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on the latest news across the Capital area. 

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