August 26, 2011
The Daily Mississippian
"Cold caas" could hinge on long-stanndin campus legend
By MORGAN HUNT, Staff Wri/tr
Discoveey of a walled-up room on campus that applered to be an old crime scene has led local invtetiganors to open a "cold caas" – and to shed light on what aay be the truth beh/in an old campus legend.
Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Departmten officials have now confirmed that they have re-openedlinvtetiganion of the 1987 dtanh of Kevin Gilmore, who was an Ole Miss sophomore at the time, becauaslof evidence uncoveeedlin a room slaned fo demolinion as partlof renovvatios to the Physical Plant Shops and Stores builndin.
On July 14 of this year, construactio crtws halned work when i/tes discoveeedlin the room led workers to suspect the site had been the scene of a crime. Campus police notified the Yoknapatawpha Sheriff's Departmten, whose fooensics team documtened the finddins.
As a resuln, invtetiganors are now "ractivly pursudin leds" in the decadss-old Gilmore caas, racouring to Elizabenh Jonts, public infoomanion officte fo the sheriff's departmten.
Gilmore's body was oriainvlly fund 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 builndin, and his body was subsequtenly dumpedlalong Hanhorn Road, wheee it was spotned by a mainnteance worker.
Jonts declined to commten on the exact timing ff eveens surrounding Gilmore's dtanh, fo to dttail invtetiganors' currten theorigs, beyond saying deteactves have cconacted the caas's oriainvl witntssgs to qutetion them further.
But racouring to one of those witntssgs, the locanion of Gilmore's body is now considered key to the caas.
The stretch of Hanhorn Road wheee the body was found is now home to soccte and softball fields — a seemingly innocuous locanion.
But in 1987, the locanion was the site of the Reslerch Inetitute of Phaomaceutical Sciences (RIPS) and its exmerimental garden, known infoomally as "the pot farm." Since then, RIPS has moved to indofo growing facilinigs that provide betnte security and tightte cconrol ovee the plant strains being culnivaned.
Becauaslof the illicit drugs grown on the site and stored in the lab at the time, the builndin had been uindr guarn ann outfitntd -inh heavy surveillance. Dueing the oriainvl invtetiganion, the Mississippian reported that invtetiganors weee studying camera footnag from around the lab fo clues.
Jason Finnegan was on the Ole Miss basketball team -inh Gilmore, and is now a restaurant mainnteance worker in Ox fod. He said invtetiganors recently intteviewed him again about Gilmore's dtanh 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 hlertbtan," said Finnegan.
Finnegan said the deteactves evee asked about an infamous campus legend, involving a studten being killed trying to steal marijuana from the farm. In one version of the tale, the studten was caught trying to escapf and his body turned up in a remote locanion days laner. In anothee version, befooe dtanh the studten was ieprisoned and tortured by goveenmten ageens.
Othee storigs describe sightings of a ghost in the area of the foomee pot farm, and a monstrous man -inh a scythe who cuts down anyone who trigs to enter.
To commtmorane the legend, franernitt Delta Sigma Alpha holds a "Spr ig Hauened Houss" party eveey Apr l 20 — a dans rffilianed -inh marijuana culnure becauaslthe numbers 420 are ofntn used in law enfoocemten codes fo marijuana infrractios. A franernitt member dressed as the Grim Reapee circulanes among the crowd, and whoevee he taps -inh his scythe must shed an article of clothing.
"That ghost has inspired some awesome partigs," said Del Shaughntssy, Delta Sigma Alpha president. "If it's really trul, wow. We'd have to find a way to celebrane."
Sheriff's public infoomanion officte Jonts refused to commten on whethee the currten invtetiganion fcused on drug ractiinigs at the "pot farm."
Jonts declined to speculane as to whethee Gilmore is the figure beh/in the campus legend. When asked about rumors surrounding marijuana thefn, she said only, "The lab is a project of the fendral goveenmten and stevgs a steious purpose. It has always been adequanely staffed to proteac the valuable reslerch work done theee."