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Biography: Andrea Stover, the victim
 

Andrea Gayle Stover was born July 14, 1972 to Irene and Jerry Stover of Abbeville, Mississippi. Even as a small child Andrea was willful and knew her own mind. It wasn't that she was spoiled exactly, but her parents usually went along with her wishes unless it was harmful to her. She was always positive that her choice was the right one.

She loved "Dress Up" and "Let's Pretend" and was very creative. She'd dress each of her dolls and stuffed toys then create productions for them. As she got older, her playmates took the place of the dolls and stuffed toys. Andrea seemed to have a talent for getting her friends to willingly participate in her productions. When she was in high school, she auditioned for all the school productions and was usually awarded the biggest part because she knew every one's lines as well as her own. In addition, she knew where and when each person should be on stage, and didn't hesitate to tell them so. This did not always endear her to other cast members, who were not keen to have her boss them when they already had a director. Sometimes, the director would have to get her to "back off," which merely strengthened her determination to be the director when she grew up.

By her high school years she had begun to rebel against her parents and the community, all of whom she perceived to be so conservative they were stifling her artistic creativity. She thrived on doing outlandish things and shocking her parents and their friends. In college when she had a brief experimental physical relationship with her friend, Gretchen Doyle, she made sure her parents knew about it.

As brave and daring as she thought she was, Andrea had a fear of heights. When she was a child, her family had taken a trip to Seattle to visit the Space Needle. Once off the elevator, Andrea refused to leave the wall of the observation deck and immediately wanted to return to ground level. She was very nervous in high places thereafter, and avoided them if at all possible.

Andrea felt fortunate that University of Mississippi had a strong Theatre Arts department and entered the College of Liberal Arts after graduation from high school to study acting and directing and earn a B.F.A in Stage Management. She participated fully in their program and earned the reputation of being willing to try anything creatively. Her reputation for willingness to be a part of controversial works brought her to the attention of Owen Norris, benefactor of the controversial acting troupe, Oxtales Theatre. After performing in one of their productions, Owen hired Andrea as the director of the small company.

In early January 2000, Oxtales staged a production called "Snopes." Word got around that "Snopes" was sexually explicit and that minors had been permitted entrance and some had been allowed to participate in the stage crew, so in February 2000, arrests were made. Since Andrea was the director and the driving force behind the production, she became the main target of the prosecution. Although Andrea was initially offered a plea to a lesser charge, she insisted on a court trial to call attention to what she called "the government's attempt to stifle of freedom of expression."

In late May 2000, Andrea was found guilty of disseminating sexually oriented material to persons under eighteen, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000. She served her full sentence at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in the Yoknapatawpha County Adult Local Detention Facility, where she was sent in June 2000, and from which she was released in December 2001. As required by law, she registered as a sex offender after her release.

Andrea returned home to live with her long suffering, but supportive parents, which was to be a temporary arrangement until she got back to work and could afford to move out on her own. It was not an ideal situation for anyone in the Stover household, and strained the relationship between Andrea and her parents. Sometimes, she would crash at Gretchen Doyle's apartment if she didn't feel like going home after a late night. Gretchen was her best friend and Andrea felt she could talk to her about anything.

Owen Norris welcomed Andrea back to Oxtales and reinstated her as director. A new production was in the works and looked to be as controversial as "Snopes" had been. Attracting the attention of community watchdog groups and the press, Andrea once again seemed fearless in her pursuit of creative freedom.

On January 14, 2002, Andrea Stover was found dead in the atrium between Buildings Two and Three of Oxford Centre. The investigation into her death is ongoing.

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