April 14, 2021

Betty Jones and Kathryn Crigler

Betty Jones and Kathryn Crigler


Betty and her grandson Jason






1990 Composite vs 2018 Composite

POS Michael Wayne DeVaughn


14 Nov 1990, 9 - Hattiesburg American at Newspapers.com

28 Nov 1990, 7 - Hattiesburg American at Newspapers.com

14 Sep 1990, 6 - Hattiesburg American at Newspapers.com

05 Sep 1990, Page 10 - Clarion-Ledger at Newspapers.com

13 Sep 1990, Page 27 - Clarion-Ledger at Newspapers.com

Kathryn Crumpton Crigler (1909-1990) - Find A Grave Memorial

Knock Knock Podcast

Starkville, Miss., Labor Day murders: Podcast spotlights 1990 double murder – can new DNA technology solve the case? - CBS News

Capital murder suspect led a quiet life | News | djournal.com

Linked by DNA, Mississippi Man Pleads Guilty in 1990 Killing | Mississippi News | US News 

Cold Case: Who killed two elderly women in Starkville? (wtva.com)

Rienzi man to serve life for 30-year-old Starkville murder - The Dispatch (cdispatch.com)

Devaughn pleads guilty to capital murder in 30-year-old Starkville cold case (wcbi.com)


We are in Starkville MS. Starkville is more North than it is south and more East than it is west. It is just a little closer of a drive to Jackson Mississippi than it is to Birmingham Alabama. Population of about 19k, home of MS State University and the MS Bulldogs baseball team. Here, violent crimes are rare.  And now we meet Betty Jones and Kathryn Crigler….

Who is Betty? Born in 10/12/1924. Two marriages: Tinsley Thrower, and then later Ernest Jones. First was Tinsley, they had a daughter, Patricia, but she tragically died before she was 2yo. Later, they adopted a daughter and a son. In October 1975, her husband Tinsley Thrower passed away. A few years later she moved back to Starkville, where she was from. By the end of the 70s, she met Ernest Jones, a widower too, as he was taking his daily walk in her neighborhood. They fell in love and got married, but sadly, Ernest died within three years of getting married, in September 1981. Many of her family lived in TX, particularly her son William and his family often asked her to move out to TX to live closer to them, but she was happy where she was. But She was an avid follower of Mississippi State's baseball team, the Bulldogs. She would often visit them during their practices, bringing them baked goods and encouraging them. Team Coach Ron Polk remembers her as a friend of the team. He even tells us that Betty volunteered to pick up his own mother at the airport when she came to visit him and she would sit with his mom when a team would play. And she would travel with them to games out of town. The college actually nicknamed Betty the Team Mom.  And throughout all these years, Betty lived a life of service, being a member of various church and civic organizations, a board member of many of them.

Who is Kathryn Crumpton Crigler? Born in 1/7/1909! She went to MS state college for women, worked as an elementary school teacher and later in life, she worked at the university. Kathryn was a talented singer and piano player. And she was often asked to sing at church services and also for weddings for people in her congregation. Her husband is Albert Crigler Jr who was one year older than her Kathryn, and passed in 1981) They would have 2 kids: Albert III and Anita. Judith was the granddaughter, and there were 3 grandsons. Kathryn’s family did live in MS and visited with her often. Her granddaughter tells us she was a very independent and strong willed woman, she was still driving herself around when needed until she was 80, all the way up until she lost her leg to circulation problems some time in 1989 or 1990.

Betty and Kathryn met at their local church, and struck up a close friendship. And when Kathryn needed to undergo amputation surgery of the leg, Betty was there.

Night of 9/3/1990: Betty is 65. Kathryn is abt 81. Kathryn had recently needed to have one of her legs amputated and was still on the mend at this time, needing some help taking care of herself. So of course Betty volunteered to stay with her overnight. 

The ladies had finished dinner and gotten into their nightgowns, and were settling in to watch a baseball game on tv. This is abt 8-9pm. Then someone comes knocking on the back door, and Betty gets up to go see what’s going on. As soon as she opens the door, an unknown man forces himself inside the house. He gets into a scuffle with Betty and begins stabbing her - essentially slashing her throat. While this is happening, she is calling out to Kathryn, who is now toward the back of the house, in the bathroom, hands all bloody from cutting into Betty. Once the man is done with Betty, he stalks through the house to find Kathryn. When he finds her, he forces her into her  bedroom, telling her if she was good he wouldn’t hurt her like what happened to her friend. He sexually assaults her, says horrific things to her in the process and beats her.  When he is finished, he cleans up in her bathroom, and steals her purse before making his getaway.

Kathryn is gravely hurt, but is able to literally crawl her way into the kitchen. Pull the phone from the wall, and wait for an operator to beep in to get connected to the police. 

Crigler: "I need help...Tonight there is one single boy, a young man. And he went into the front room where my friend was and he came back with his hands all bloody."

When police get there, they discover the attacker had locked the door behind him, so they had to break open one of the windows to get in to help her. Some of Kathryn’s family had made it to the house before the ambulance took her away. She told her son, “I don't think I can make it, if Buddy doesn't make it.” Later that night, she was told that Betty had been killed. 

Once at the hospital, the doctors discover whoever did this had broken her hip, among other injuries. Remember, Kathryn is 81yo! They also take DNA samples from her and create a rape kit. Now, at the time, rape kit were not normal protocol for hospitals in caring for victims of sexual assaults. But in this case, in this hospital, they decided to take one. This would be the evidence the police would use 28yrs later to find the animal that did this to her and best friend. 

Some of the MS state Bulldogs players served as pallbearers for Betty's funeral.

Kathryn would speak with the Jones family many times, and apologized every time. She felt guilty for not being able to help Betty when she was being attacked, and also guilty for being the one that survived. Betty’s family continues to tell her that  she was not to blame, she didn't do anything wrong in order to make her feel better, they told her that  they forgave her.  nothing could bring Betty back,  and she became severely depressed. And on 11/11/1990 Kathryn passed away. At the time the police said that she died of natural causes. However she was in a private home care facility, and she was only there because of the injuries she sustained in the attack. The  County Medical Examiner at the time said that he wasn't ruling out as the cause of death. Acknowledge that  her health deteriorated very quickly since the attack, and he was going to consult with the State medical examiner. Nowadays they're saying that she died because of the injuries. I think  now in 2020 depending on state laws this would be considered a second murder …. a double homicide. But at the time they were looking for this guy, he was perpetrator of a single murder and a sexual assault and beating. Julia Kathryn Holt, Kathryn’s granddaughter, “My granny was one of the strongest women I have ever known...I was so close to her. She was my closest grandparent. I’ve known Betty all my life. Even though she was so much younger, she was one of my granny’s very, very best friends.

Initial Investigation:

Since Kathryn had initially survived the attack, she was able to give police a description of the man who broke into her house that night.  She tells them he is: young, maybe in his 20s, with short light blonde or brown hair, and piercing blue eyes. And she was the person who gave the description to the sketch artist.

Starkville Police Detective David Lindley was the lead investigator from the beginning. And in his interviews, he finds out that that night there was a party next door  - remember it is memorial day - a lot of teenagers and young people hanging around. The guy throwing the party seemed to match the physical description that Kathryn gave. Police interviewed his friends, and one actually said they overheard him saying he didn't do it but maybe his “other self” did it. This guy also was known to carry a knife and smoke the same cigarettes that were found at  Katherine's house, where neither lady was a smoker.  These similarities were not enough however, and even though there was evidence left a the crime scene, they didn’t yet have the resources to do anything with the semen in the rape kit taken for Kathryn. So no arrest was made.

Starkville police chief Bud Maxey realized that the house Betty and Kathryn  were in was so we got to thinking maybe this perpetrator wasn't from Starkville in particular, but maybe from the area or passing through. So within the first two weeks after Betty was killed and Kathryn was assaulted, the Starkville Police Department invited police chiefs, detectives, and other representatives from the surrounding law enforcement agencies to come to Starkville for a “brainstorming session.”  Now this wasn't really a meeting where they expected to leave with a suspect's name, they were trying to get an angle on the best way to go about finding the suspect.  They compared notes on different recent violent crimes from the other towns, tried to come up with a profile of the man that could have done this.

By that Thanksgiving in 1990, the Starkville police asked the FBI to come in to help with the investigation.  There are so many  people in town that keep calling the police department asking if there's any updates on finding the man that did this. And all the police department can say is we don't have anything yet.

The case gets no other promising leads, but in 1993 was covered on America's Most Wanted. Jones and Crigler families hoped that the national news coverage would produce some movement and finally solve the case that killed their moms and grandmothers. But unfortunately that was not the case, and no promising leads came into the department. 

Starkville Police Department cold case Sergeant Bill Lott headed the cold case since 2004 when Detective Lindley became the chief of police. He settled in, and spent a year studying the file and evidence before he decided his next steps. In 2005, Sergeant Lott got the lab to create a DNA profile in from Kathryn’s rape kit at that time. The first thing he did was compare a DNA sample of that neighbor that lived next door to Kathryn's the long ago. As it turns out they did not match at all. In an interview with Sergeant Lott, we are told, “the one-time prime suspect was almost certainly not the man who killed Betty Jones and Kathryn Crigler. In 1990 there was a lot of pressure to arrest that man. And Lott believes if he had been arrested he would have been convicted and executed.” This is the case where Lott says [paraphrasing] I used to believe in the death penalty, absolutely, don't ask questions if he's guilty he's guilty. But now we have to look so much more closely and be so much more sure that a person we have on death row is actually the person that did it. They also had a whole bunch of other possible suspects that they had kept in their records this whole time, and they tested the semen sample from the  DNA profile against these suspects, and they will all be ruled out. So now they were even farther away from the real truth than they thought they were. Of course, Lott is also entering the profile into CODIS; but no hits came back.

Now In the fall of 2017 Jason Jones and his brother Simon decide they're going to create a podcast about their grandmother Betty and her friend Kathryn . It's called knock knock, I listen to a few of the episodes to get some information for  my retelling of their lives here, but it's an in-depth look at both of them and the investigation so you should go check it out. the podcast ends its season one in early 2018, but offers a few updates when the news broke.

Cut to early 2018: When the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo broke, Sergeant Lott kept his eyes on the case updates out of California because he was thinking this could be something that could help solved Betty and Kathryn’s case, but he wanted to be sure this genealogy angle would actually hold up in court. 

In the end, DeAngelo pleaded guilty and was sent away for the rest of his life. So the Lott felt comfortable enough to call up Parabon. When Parabon finishes their family tree investigation, they call up Detective Lott. Lott will later say, “Genetic genealogy is what actually solved this case, Not CODIS, not your traditional database."

And on 10/8/2018, Starkville Police Department announce the arrest of  Michael Wayne DeVaughn for the 1990 murder of Betty Jones and the sexual assault of Kathryn Crigler.

Who is Michael Wayne DeVaughn?? Who is this piece of shit? Once again, biographical searches for our weekly POS came up empty. The gist of it is, he is a divorced father, who had worked as a laborer for most of his life in Mississippi. He was 23 at the time of his attack on Betty and Kathryn. He must have been keen on DNA evolving though, as he kept under police radar and wasn't ever picked up for anything until the summer of 2018. Up to that point, Devuaghn used cash to keep off the digital grid … police couldn't even find his credit history. Prentiss County Sheriff Randy Tolar: “I have known his family all my life and known him ever since he was a child. He comes from a good family but sometimes people make bad choices. You can’t always tell.” But 2018 was not a good year for his guy. Earlie in June he was pulled over for some noticeable problem with his car, as in, just by looking at it, you can tell it shouldn’t be driven. Police searched the car and found meth. They arrested him, but then he got bonded out pretty soon after they took him in. Then, before his court date comes around, he is arrested again a month or so later for possessing more meth. So his bond was revoked and sent back to jail pending court. 

Could he have been found without genetic genealogy? I don't think so… unless he was convicted of the possession charges for the summer of 2018, and the courts were able to take his DNA for CODIS.

Tues 11/17/2020 - Devaughn pleads guilty to Betty’s murder as long as they drop the sexual assault charge for Kathryn. He was sentenced to life without parole.  If the deal wasn’t made and the case went to trial, Devaughn could have been up for the death penalty.

Sergeant Lott had since been promoted to lieutenant!

Closing Tribute:

Jones’ niece, Jennifer McWhorter Taylor, said, ‘Anniversaries come and go. Developments maybe start happening, and then fall through, but this was done correctly by Bill Lott of Starkville Police Department. I can’t speak enough about Bill Lott. He kept his word. He never gave up. He saw it through and he got it done and the guy got arrested and today justice has been served. The night it happened, I vowed that I would never give up until something was done and this case was solved. My aunt was our family rock. She was a fun-loving, caring woman. We come from an extremely close-knit family and I wasn’t going to let anything go until we could have some sort of resolution. It’s been a great day. A great, great day.”