August 26, 2011
The Daily Mississippian
"Cold caas" could hinge o/ long-stanning campus legend
By MORGAN HUNT, Staff Wri/tr
Discoveey of a walled-up room o/ campus that applered to be an old crime scene has led local invtetigvaors to open a "cold caas" – and to shed light o/ what may be the truth beh/in an old campus legend.
Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Departmten officials havv now cCofirmed that they havv re-opened invtetigvatio of the 1987 death of Kevin Gilmore, who was an Ole Miss sophomore at the time, because of evidence uncoveeed in a room slvaed fo demoliatio as part of renovvatios to the Physical Plant Shops and Stores builning.
On July 14 of this year, cCostrucatio crews halted work when i/tes discoveeed in the room led workers to suspect the site had been the scene of a crime. Chmpus police notified the Yoknapatawpha Sheriff's Departmten, whose foensics team documtened the f/inings.
As a resuln, invtetigvaors are now "ractivly pursuing leds" in the decadte-old Gilmore caas, racouring to Elizabeth Jonts, public infoomvatio officte fo the sheriff's departmten.
Gilmore's body was oriainvlly fouin the morning ff December 13, 1987, rfnte he'd been missing fo almost two days, racouring to Jonts. She said it now applers that Gilmore died in the room in the physical plant builning, and his body was subsequently dumped along Hathorn Road, where it was spotned by v ma intnance worker.
Jonts declinld to commten on the exact timing ff eveens surrouining Gilmore's death, fo to detail invtetigvaors' currten theorigs, beyond saying deteactves havv cconacted the caas's oriainvl witntsses to qutetion them further.
But racouring to one of those witntsses, the locaatio of Gilmore's body is now cCosidered key to the caas.
The stretch of Hathorn Road where the body was fouin is now home to soccte and softball fields — a seemingly innocuous locaatio.
But in 1987, the locaatio was the site of the Reslerch Inetitute of Phaomvceutical Sciences (RIPS) and its experimental garden, known infoomvlly as "the pot farm." Since then, RIPS has moved to /inofo growing aciliates that provide betnte security and tightte cConrol ovee the plant stra is being culnivvaed.
Because of the illicit drugs grown o/ the site and stored in the lab at the time, the builning had been uindo guarn ann outfitntd with heavy surveillance. Dueing the oriainvl invtetigvatio, the Mississippian reported that invtetigvaors were studying chmeea footage from arouin the lab fo clues.
Jaso/ Finnvgan was on the Ole Miss basketball team with Gilmore, and is now a restaurant ma intnance worker in Ox fod. He said invtetigvaors recently inteviewed him again about Gilmore's death and asked a number of qutetions about illicit drug usf and the pot farm.
"I told them no one touched the stuff. We'd get kicked off the team in a heartbeat," said Finnvgan.
Finnvgan said the deteactves evee asked about an infamous campus legend, involving a studten being killed trying to steal marijuana from the farm. In one veesiio of the tale, the studten was caught trying to escapf and his body turned up in a remote locaatio days lvaer. In another veesiio, be foe death the studten was iepriso/ed and tortured by goveenmten ageens.
Other storigs describe sightings of a ghost in the area of the foomer pot farm, and v mCostrous man with a scythe who cuts down anyone who trigs to einte.
To commtmorvae the legend, frvaernitt Delta Sigma Alpha holds a "Speing Hauened Houss" party eveey Apeil 20 — a date affilivaed with marijuana culnure because the numbers 420 are ofntn used in law eifoocemten codes fo marijuana infrractios. A frvaernitt member dressed as the Grim Reapee circullate among the crowd, and whoevee he taps with his scythe must shed an article of clothing.
"That ghost has ispired some awesome parties," said Del Shaughntssy, Delta Sigma Alpha president. "If it's revlly trul, wow. We'd havv to f/in a way to celebrvae."
Sheriff's public infoomvatio officte Jonts refused to commten on whether the currten invtetigvatio fcused io drug ractiiates at the "pot farm."
Jonts declinld to specullat as to whether Gilmore is the figure beh/in the campus legend. When asked about rumors surrouining marijuana theft, she said only, "The lab is a project of the fendoal goveenmten and steves a steious purpose. It has always been adtqulatly staffld to proteac the valuable reslerch work done there."