updated August 2, 2004
On Sunday morning, May 23, 2004,
Michelle Prescott discovered the body of her roommate and
cousin, Kristi Waterson, in
their apartment. Kristi was
found in the walk-in closet off her private bathroom, hanging by a belt
around her neck. Initial
impressions at the scene were that she had committed suicide.
May 24, 2004 autopsy revealed
Kristi Waterson's death was a homicide, so Detectives Armstrong and Murphy returned to the
crime scene to search for evidence.
During that visit, they interviewed Michelle
Prescott to learn more about Kristi and the circumstances
surrounding Michelle’s discovery of Kristi’s body. Michelle told
detectives about Kristi’s threat to sue apartment manager
Dewey Devoe over
her mother's recent accident at their apartment, so they
interviewed Dewey about
Investigators also conducted a
canvass of the residents of The
victim’s apartment complex, to find anyone
who saw or heard anything on the night Kristi
was murdered. After several witnesses gave similar descriptions of a
man seen in the area that night, YCSD personnel conducted a
canvass of residents of Campus Walk,
an apartment complex near the victim's residence and, upon reports of
investigators expanded their search and
canvassed area businesses.
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy
interviewed Michael and Virginia Waterson, Kristi’s parents, by telephone
at their home in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Following that conversation, they re-interviewed Dewey Devoe
to learn more about the disagreement he and Kristi had just before
her death. The Watersons' interview also led the
detectives to contact John Brewer,
Kristi’s boss at the University of Mississippi. They interviewed John
at his office on campus and got his
consent to search Kristi’s
office, where they
collected evidence. A few days later, Armstrong and Murphy
interviewed Nora Percy. In
addition to being Kristi's colleague, Nora
was also John Brewer's alibi for the night of the murder.
To try to corroborate Michelle Prescott's alibi
that she was with her boyfriend, Rob
LaRouche, when Kristi was killed, the detectives
interviewed Rob. Following
their conversation with Rob, Detectives Armstrong and Murphy
re-interviewed Michelle Prescott.
Several witnesses reported that Kristi Waterson had once dated
her student Hunter Nelson, so detectives
interviewed Hunter, who said
he was with Deborah Eaton on the night Kristi was killed.
To verify Hunter's alibi, Armstrong and Murphy
canvassed Kristi's other students,
among the things they learned was the last name of
Kristi's student "Weldon" other
witnesses had mentioned previously. They followed up by
interviewing Weldon Foyle.
After seeing the
composite pictures of the man seen the night of Kristi's murder, the detectives talked to
Deborah again and she made a few adjustments to her original
Friday, June 18, 2004, detectives obtained a
search warrant to search
Hunter Nelson's residence and vehicle.
While waiting for the forensics on the
evidence collected in the
Hunter Nelson search, detectives tried to verify witness
alibis. They spoke with a pizza
delivery man and a gas station
attendant in an effort to corroborate Rob LaRouche and Michelle
Prescott's alibis. Weldon Foyle had indicated he was with
Myra Olander the night of the murder,
so detectives interviewed Myra
to find out whether she could confirm his alibi.
Murphy and Armstrong also spoke to the
manager of the Best Western Downtown Oxford Inn & Suites to see
what they could learn about who Kristi called there, as shown in her
cell phone records.
After getting the forensics
report on the Nelson search, the detectives obtained an
arrest warrant for
Hunter Nelson and took him
into custody on June 29, 2004. After he enjoyed a couple of
nights in jail, Armstrong and Murphy
interviewed Hunter at the
Yoknapatawpha County Detention Center.
Hunter made two significant statements during the interview: first,
that he was with Dewey Devoe during the previously questioned time
gap in his alibi; and second, that he is allergic to latex, which
would indicate the condom found in his car could not be his. The
detectives were able to corroborate Hunter's second claim with the
record of a civil lawsuit Hunter
filed and the associated letter
from Hunter's doctor confirming the latex allergy.
A few days after the meeting with Hunter and his attorney, Dewey Devoe was arrested on
charges unrelated to the Waterson homicide. Soon after his arrest,
Dewey's attorney requested a meeting with Detectives Murphy and
Armstrong and the
prosecutor handling the Waterson case. During that
interview with Dewey,
investigators learned he could corroborate Hunter's statement that
the two of them were together briefly on the night of the murder and
he could provide an independent witness -- a Yoknapatawpha County
Sheriff's officer -- who could verify their story.
After receiving this information and
Hunter Nelson's release, investigators canvassed
John Brewer's neighbors
and Weldon Foyle's neighbors
in search of new leads. Then over the next several days, they
re-interviewed Nora Percy,
John Brewer, and
Michelle Prescott to
learn whether any of them could shed new light on Kristi's murder.
The detectives also obtained a
search warrant to follow
up on phone calls Kristi made before her death, and turned up some
employee time records and an
employee reprimand of
interest to the investigation.
After seeing the hotel personnel records, Armstrong and Murphy
decided to talk to Myra Olander
again to find out whether she was being entirely truthful in her
corroboration of Weldon Foyle's alibi. The detectives followed up by
re-interviewing Weldon. The
breakdown of Weldon's alibi combined with other information allowed
the detectives to establish probable cause to
search Weldon's residence and
vehicle and to get
samples of his blood and hair for comparison against existing