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In early March of 1997 Purity Knight and her roommate Lee Perez were the victims of a stalking incident. A neighbor, Johnny McPhail, spotted the stalker sometime before 11:00 pm in a tree in front of the apartment outside their windows. He reported seeing lights from the tree. Mr. McPhail went out to check and then pursued the suspect through the woods. The suspect was not caught. Mr. McPhail described the suspect as small built, probably about 5'8" with a light complexion. Recovered at the scene was a 35mm camera. The developed film showed a number of photographs taken by the stalker of Ms. Knight. Several shoe prints were also found.

Subsequently, Matthew Edward Owens was identified as a suspect.
Several days after the stalking incident, Purity Knight disappeared. According to the interview with her roommate, Lee Maria Perez, she was last seen early in the morning at breakfast prior to leaving for the library and an 8:30 am class. The last person to see Ms. Knight subsequent to this, was Professor Woolworth at the University of Mississippi.
An odd answering machine message was left at the Perez and Knight apartment. The full text and an audio version is available in the investigation materials. A Profile of the Suspect including a voice stress analysis of the message on the tape can be found in the evidence files.
The abductor made first contact with Detective Armstrong, the lead detective on this case, on May 5, 1997. A white envelope addressed to Detective Armstrong arrived via first class mail containing a Geological Survey map. It is a torn piece from an oversize map. A note was taped to the reverse side of the map.
The second contact was a single Polaroid of Purity Knight. It was delivered via USPS on 7 May 97. Attached to the reverse of the picture was a note.
The third contact was a second Polaroid of Purity Knight delivered via USPS on 16 May 97. There was no note.
On June 9, 1997 Purity Marie Knight, (AKA Ariadne Purity Knight), was found dead, buried in a pine grove near her home. Knight was entombed alive for an undetermined time in a homemade coffin. She received air and food through an access passage.
An excerpt from the incident report prepared by Detective Armstrong follows:
Dispatch received a pay phone call from Ben Archer, 106 Fairlawn Drive, Oxford, at 6:47 AM. Archer had been out for his morning walk and reported he'd found a body in a wooden box in the woods. Officers Graham and Marlowe were on patrol at the time and picked up Archer at the pay phone. They then proceeded to the site, Archer led them to the body, which was buried in a wooded area behind Fairlawn Cemetery. Marlow radioed for backup and secured the scene. I arrived with the Forensic team at 7:06 AM.
The box had been partially uncovered by Archer and his dog. The perpetrator had apparently created a ground covering of grass, twigs, and leaves in a realistic fashion, after burial of the box. The portion of the box uncovered by Archer and his dog was positioned under the branches of a briar-like shrub. Upon peering into the opening, a grill, set into the wood, was visible about 40 inches below ground level. Through the grill, the victim's head
could be seen.
At the crime scene, Archer described a child he saw crouched over the burial site. The child was identified as 9 year old Dylan Tull. In the days before her death, the boy attempted to assist the victim. She gave him a note, pleading for help. The note was never delivered. It was later discovered in the university library.

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