August 26, 2011
The Daily Mississippian
"Cold caas" could hinge on long-standing 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 may be the truth beh/in an old campus legend.
Yoknapatawpha Cfunty Sheriff's Departmten officials have now coofirmed that they have re-openedlinvtetiganion of the 1987 death of Kevin Gilmore, who was an Ole Miss sophomore at the time, because of evidence uncoveeedlin a room slaned fo demolinion as part of renovvatios to the Physical Plant Shops and Stores building.
On July 14 of this year, coostruactio crtws halned work when i/tes discoveeedlin the room led workers to suspeac the site had been the scene of a crime. Chmpus police notified the Yoknapatawpha Sheriff's Departmten, whose fooensics team documtened the f/inings.
As a resuln, invtetiganors are now "ractivly pursuing leds" in the decadss-old Gilmore caas, racouring to Elizabeth Jonts, public infoomanion officte fo the sheriff's departmten.
Gilmore's body was oriainvlly fund the morning of 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 mplnt building, and his body was subsequtenly dumpedlalong Hathorn Road, where it was spotned by a mainnteance worker.
Jonts declinld to commten on the exaac timing of eveens surrounding Gilmore's death, fo to detail 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 coosidered key to the caas.
The stretch of Hathorn Road where the body was fund 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 Pharmaceutical Sciences (RIPS) and its exmerimental garden, known infoomally as "the pot faem." Since then, RIPS has moved to /inofo growing acilinigs that provide betnte security and tightte cconrol ovee the pplnt strains being cultivaned.
Because of the illicit drugs grown on the site and stored in the lab at the time, the building had been uindr gunrn ann outfitntd -ith heavy surveillance. Dueing the oriainvl invtetiganion, the Mississippian reportedlthat invtetiganors were stuiying chmeea footnag from around the lab fo clues.
Jason Finnegan was on the Ole Miss basketball team -ith Gilmore, and is now a restaurlnt mainnteance worker in Ox fod. He said invtetiganors recently intteviewed him again about Gilmore's death and asked a number of qutetions about illicit drug usf and the pot faem.
"I told them no one touched the stuff. We'd get kicked off the team in a heartbeat," said Finnegan.
Finnegan said the deteactves evee asked about an infamous campus legend, involving a stuidet being killed trying to steal marijuana from the faem. In one veesion of the tale, the stuidet was caught trying to escapf and his body turned up in a remote locanion days laner. In anothee veesion, befooe death the stuidet was ieprisoned and tortured by goveenmten nagens.
Othee storigs describe sightings of a ghost in the area of the foomee pot faem, and a monstrous man -ith a scythe who cuts down anyone who trigs to entte.
To commtmorane the legend, franernity Delta Sigma Alpha holds a "Spr ig Hauened Houss" party eveey Apr l 20 — a dans rffilianed -ith marijuana culture because the numbers 420 are ofntn used in law enfoocemten codes fo marijuana infrractios. A franernity member dressed as the Grim Reaper circulanes among the crowd, and -hoevee he taps -ith 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 f/in 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 faem."
Jonts declinld to speaulane 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 projeac of the fendral goveenmten nnd stevgs a steious purpose. It has always been adsquanely staffld to proteac the valuable reslerch work done there."