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Incident Report



    Investigating Officer(s): Detective S. Murphy, Detective T. Armstrong
    Incident No.: 000524-27A-2001
    Date: 1/27/01, 8:17 a.m.
    Incident Address: 311 Elm Street
    Incident: 911 Report - Discovery of Dead Body
    Victim's Name: Melissa "Missy" Hammond
    Victim's Age: 25
    Victim's Address: same as Incident Address
    Suspects: None at this time
    All detailed reports on file


At 8:06 a.m., Dispatch received a 911 call regarding the discovery of a body at a residence located at 311 Elm Street. The caller identified himself as Jonah Dale, father of the deceased.

Unit #202 (Officer A.L. Quinlan) was immediately dispatched to the scene. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy were assigned and proceeded directly to the scene. Coroner's Inspector Luwinda Johnson was notified at R/I's request to respond to the scene. Reporting Officer (R/O) Quinlan arrived at the scene at 8:09 a.m. At R/O's request, Unit #216 (Officer Kennon Winters) was dispatched to the scene to provide backup and assistance and arrived at 8:15 a.m.

Reporting Investigators (R/Is) arrived at the scene at 8:17 a.m. and found R/Os Quinlan and Winters had secured the area. Environmental conditions at scene upon arrival are as follows: Weather: Hazy/dry; Ambient Exterior Temperature: approximately 34º F / 1º C; Relative Exterior Humidity: approximately 85 percent; Ambient Interior Temperature: approximately 69º F / 21º C; Relative Interior Humidity: approximately 55 percent.


R/O Quinlan made the following verbal report, which is stated in summary and not verbatim, upon R/Is arrival. R/O Quinlan stated that an adult male, identified as Jonah Dale, met R/O when he arrived and admitted him to the residence. R/O Quinlan stated he also observed a second witness at the scene, identified by the witness Dale as Lydia Hammond, the minor child of the victim. R/O Quinlan stated that the witness Dale directed R/O to the location of the body. After confirming the presence of the body, R/O Quinlan secured the scene, called for backup, and detained the witnesses. R/O Quinlan further stated that, to the best of his knowledge, the following personnel have had occasion to enter the crime scene area and must be excluded by CSU personnel: R/O Winters, Jonah Dale, Lydia Hammond, and himself.

After receiving the report from R/O Quinlan, R/I Murphy contacted Dispatch regarding the status of the Coroner's Inspector and the Crime Scene Unit. Dispatch indicated the Inspector's ETA was approximately 15 minutes and CSU's ETA was approximately 12 minutes.

The witness Dale then notified R/Is that he had contacted a family member to remove the minor witness Hammond from the scene. Dale indicated his belief that the victim had named him legal guardian of the child in the event of her death or incapacity. Dale stated he expected the family member, Johnny McPhail of Oxford, to arrive at the scene within minutes and requested that the minor witness Hammond be permitted to leave with McPhail. R/Is agreed to give the witness Dale temporary custody of the minor witness, pending confirmation of legal guardianship, and to permit the minor witness to leave the scene with a family member designated by Dale.

R/Is talked briefly with the minor witness Hammond at the scene, but the child was largely unresponsive. Johnny McPhail, identified as the witness Dale's cousin, arrived at the scene at approximately 8:27 a.m. and was signed in and admitted to the residence to take custody of the minor witness Hammond. McPhail and Hammond were signed out and exited the scene at approximately 8:35 a.m.

R/Is then proceeded to the location of the body. R/Is observed a lifeless human body, apparently a female in her mid-twenties, on a bed in the master bedroom of the residence. R/Is observed that the body was on top of the bedclothes with a blanket at the victim's feet. R/Is further observed that the bedclothes adjacent to the body were disturbed. Visual inspection indicated the victim was wearing a nightgown and robe. The body lay face up with the left arm alongside the body. The right arm was bent at the elbow at an approximate 90º angle to the body with the right hand resting on the stomach. The head of the body faced in an easterly direction and the feet in a westerly direction. The body displayed signs of trauma to the neck. No other injuries were immediately apparent. Pending official analysis by the coroner's office, initial observation indicated the deceased was apparently the victim of ligature strangulation.

Coroner's Inspector Johnson arrived at the scene at approximately 8:38 a.m. and joined R/Is at the body's location. Inspector Johnson pronounced the victim deceased at 8:42 a.m. by visual observation that the victim was not breathing and by tactile observation that the victim did not have a palpable carotid pulse. Inspector Johnson noted that the victim appeared to be in full rigor mortis, beginning to decline. While she withheld an official estimate pending an autopsy, Inspector Johnson speculated the victim had been dead approximately 12 to 16 hours and the apparent cause of death was ligature strangulation. Inspector Johnson indicated that further details would be available in the official autopsy report. After Inspector Johnson completed her initial inspection of the body, she stayed with the CSU team to ensure integrity of the body, while the team took photographs of the scene and performed preliminary analyses, until the body could be removed from the scene without destroying other evidence.

A preliminary search of the residence for the weapon(s) causing the injury to the deceased met with negative results. CSU will conduct a more intensive search and report their findings.

A preliminary inspection of the exterior of the residence found possible signs of forced entry on the door and doorjamb of the rear entrance to the residence. Additional possible signs of forced entry were observed on a basement window also located at the rear (east side) of the residence. CSU will conduct a more intensive analysis of these areas and report their findings.

Following inspection of the scene, R/Is interviewed the witness, Jonah Dale, at the scene. A transcript of Dale's interview is attached to this report.

Before leaving, R/I Murphy instructed CSU to seal the scene upon completion or end of day suspension of processing. CSU to notify R/Is of progress by the end of this date. As of this filing, CSU is still actively processing at the scene.

Body of the deceased remanded into the custody of Coroner's Inspector Luwinda Johnson. Deceased was removed from scene at 9:21 a.m. and transported to the coroner's office for autopsy. A preliminary autopsy report is expected within fourteen days of this report.

Evidence remanded into the custody of Forensics Officer T. R. Douglas for transport to the state crime lab for routine analysis. CSU is expected to submit an inventory of items taken into evidence within fourteen days of this report, with detailed report(s) of their findings to follow at a later date.

REPORT FILED 1/27/01, 2:50 P.M.
//Sam Murphy, Yoknapatawpha Sheriff's Detective


//Ted Armstrong, Yoknapatawpha Sheriff's Detective

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