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Summary of the Waterson Homicide Investigation to date

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.

However, the 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 the incident.

Investigators also conducted a canvass of the residents of The Turn, 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 additional sightings, 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 interviewed Deborah

When investigators 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 story. On 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 evidence.

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