Monday, June 1, 2015
Beauty queen killer arraigned
Pageant Sponsor Charged in Brutal Killing
The tragic story of murder and beauty queens came to a conclusion today as Alexandra "Allie" Johnson Lamar was arraigned on homicide and aggravated assault charges in Yoknapatawpha County Court.
The cosmetics magnate, clad in a prison jumpsuit, appeared subdued and dispirited. She did not speak except to plead not guilty to all charges.
Lamar, 58, is accused of killing Barbara Dubois, one of three finalists in the Yoknapatawpha County Literature Festival Beauty Pageant that Lamar Cosmetics sponsored.
A trial is expected to follow as quickly as court schedules allow.
Dubois, 23, was found dead early in the morning of May 2, 2015, at the Yoknapatawpha County Conference Center where the pageant was being held.
She was a lifelong resident of Oxford and a veteran of the beauty pageant circuit. Friends said that she entered this pageant as a springboard to the Miss Mississippi competition.
As authorities investigated the Dubois murder, Oxford learned more than anyone could have ever dreamed about the beauty pageant business. Rumors spread throughout town as residents speculated on the identity of the murderer.
Many people thought a jealous competitor could have been behind the killing. Other people guessed that an obsessive fan could have been the murderer.
The investigation took a strange turn on May 19 when Erma Webb was arrested and charged with what the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department described as "offenses related to the Dubois investigation."
Webb, 52, is the mother of another pageant finalist, Rachel Webb. Faced with the news of Webb's arrest, many Oxford residents assumed that the motive for the Dubois murder was an obsessed stage mother.
Webb was charged with attempted murder, and oddly enough, poisoning, but sheriff's department officials have not released more specific details about Webb's involvement in this case. The District Attorney's office has also refused to comment.
The news of a second arrest in the case spread throughout town quickly. "I just couldn't believe it when I heard," said ballet teacher Rhonda Specht. "I know all those girls — and their mothers. This is just incredible."
Those associated with the pageant were particularly puzzled about why Allie Lamar would do anything that could ruin the pageant she and her company were counting on as a lifeline.
"I don't know how this could happen. I mean, even if we can somehow get over the idea of the murder, it still just doesn't make any sense," said pageant judge Frank Margold.
"This pageant was Lamar Cosmetics' last hope from a business perspective. They were just barely keeping their heads above water. Allie seemed to have such high hopes for this pageant. Why bring such bad publicity?"
Less than a week before Allie Lamar was taken into custody, Lamar Cosmetics filed for bankruptcy protection. Lamar's son, Bill, who is expected to take over the family business, painted a rosy picture of the company's future despite the current money problems — but that was before the founder and president was arrested for murder.
Repeated calls to the offices of Lamar Cosmetics since the arrest on Thursday have gone unreturned, and attempts to locate Bill Lamar for comment have been unsuccessful.
Check back for updates on this developing story.