Andrea Stover, whose 2000 theatre production "Snopes"
resulted in a prison term on sex crime charges, was found dead
Monday morning in the atrium between buildings two and three
at Oxford Centre.
Initial reports indicate Stover fell 25 feet from the skywalk
connecting the buildings of the office complex, according to
Yoknapatawpha Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer
Sheriff's deputies arrived on the scene shortly before 8:30
Monday morning after receiving a 911 call from an office worker
at Blaze Art and Media, an ad agency located in building two
of Oxford Centre.
Jones said the case is being treated as a murder, but would
not disclose further information about the investigation pending
completion of the coroner's report.
Stover, a Taylor performance artist, was released on December
3, 2001 after completing her 18-month sentence at the Central
Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, MS. She was convicted
in June of 2000 on charges of disseminating sexually-oriented
material to minors after parents of three teenagers who volunteered
as stage technicians for "Snopes" saw a video of the
production and filed charges.
The production was one of several controversial works masterminded
by Stover, who colleagues say tackled difficult issues through
her choice of sexually explicit works. (See
related story, page A3.)
"It wasn't about the controversy," said Dale King,
assistant director of the Oxtales Theatre. "Andrea was taking
on huge issues rape, interracial romance in the Jim Crow
era, gay rights, sexual taboos. Sometimes they aren't pretty
to look at, but she brought them out into the light."
King, who served as acting director during Stover's prison
term, said she was working on a new piece when she died. The
group has put production on hold temporarily, he added.
"It's a huge blow to us and to the artistic community
as a whole," King said.
But Stover's critics say her productions were the sign of
a deranged mind at work.
"Anyone who would expose teenagers to sex acts like she
did was clearly a dangerous psychotic," said Ben Morgan,
president of Concerned Oxford Parents (COP), a community watchdog
group that works to protect local children and monitors local
sex offense cases.
COP, which was headed in 2000 by current Oxford Mayor Claire
Windham, advocated the maximum sentence of a 3-year prison term
and $15,000 fine for Stover. Since her release, COP has been
distributing flyers about Stover to neighbors and local parents
in what Morgan says is an effort to keep the community safe.
"People need to know when sex offenders move into their
home town," said Morgan. "The information is public.
We just help get the word out."
Morgan denied that his group's work might have incited someone
to an act of vigilante justice against Stover.
"We don't advocate violence," he said. "We
do advocate putting pressure on local authorities to protect
our citizens. To my mind, we had the right to let her know she
wasn't wanted here."
Stover is survived by her parents, Oxford residents Jerry
and Irene Stover. They declined to speak about their daughter's
death. Funeral services will be held in private, with a memorial
service planned for later this month.