Arrest made in 1990 Labor Day murder case

October 9, 2018 9:56:21 AM

Alex Holloway - [email protected]


Starkville police have arrested a man believed to be connected to the infamous Labor Day murders of 1990. 


Police arrested Michael Devaughn, 51, of Reinzi, on Saturday for a possible connection to the 28-year-old case. According to the Oktibbeha County Jail log, Devaughn is being held on charges of capital murder and sexual battery. 


The Dispatch is working to get verification from Starkville Police Department about the arrest's connection to the cold case. Public Information Officer Brandon Lovelady declined to confirm the connection, saying only the department has scheduled a press conference at 11:30 a.m. at Starkville police headquarters. 


Sources from one of the victim's family said they understand Devaughn's arrest is connected with the Labor Day murder.  


Betty Jones, 65, and Katherine Crigler, 81, were attacked and killed in Crigler's home at 306 Highway 82 E. in Starkville on Sept. 3, 1990.  


Crigler was sexually assaulted, and Jones was stabbed to death at the scene. She was taken to the hospital, where a DNA profile was developed from a rape kit.  


Crigler died from her injuries a few months after the assault. 


There have been several suspects through the years, but none has resulted in a definitive charge to clear the case. 


Devaughn, who was reportedly arrested on Saturday evening, was in the Tishomingo County Jail. Tishomingo County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Devaughn in June for possession of methamphetamine, according to the North Mississippi Daily Journal. 




Family reaction 


Jason Jones and his brother, Simon, are Betty Jones' grandsons. The Jones brothers recently finished recording the Knock Knock podcast, a true crime podcast series about the Labor Day murder, with a live question and answer session in Starkville in September. 


In a Sunday morning interview with The Dispatch, the brothers said they never expected an arrest to follow so soon after the podcast's conclusion. 


Jason said on Saturday night, he watched something that has eluded him and his brother for 28 years -- the sight of a suspect in the case being taken into police custody. 


"We never would have dreamed in a million years that we'd be a watching a video of the suspect being taken into custody a month after finishing that podcast," Jason said. "We're very emotional. We're very thankful to the service of the Starkville Police Department and their decades-long dedication to this case. We are overwhelmed at the possibility that Betty and Katherine may finally have the justice that they deserve." 


Jason was 11 at the time of the murders, and Simon was 4. In the years since, they said, it's been hard to keep up the hope that Betty Jones and Crigler would ever get justice. Even the Knock Knock podcast, Jason said, was born out of frustration at a lack of progress and broader attention to the case. 


"I think, over the years, we've lost hope many, many, many times, over and over again," Jason said. "That hope would be reignited every Labor Day -- there'd be this broad coverage that was like 'Hey, remember that case?' I feel like it was always a reminder that there was still no resolution. 


"That hope would fizzle over time," he added. "But a coping mechanism in that people go on and live their lives. A lot of that, for us, has been putting that nightmare away in the archive of our minds." 


Simon said he has flashes of memories about his grandmother. Because he was younger, he said he had to grow to understand what happened, which made perpetrator a monster his mind. 


"As I turned 5 and 6 and 7, this guy really was the boogeyman," he said. "He was the boogeyman who was never caught. Once I understood murder, I realized that he did this with no consequence and vanished, and now he's out and about--which as a kid, means he's everywhere.  


"Fast forward a few decades and I see this guy on my phone and on TV and he's just a sad-looking dude with recent drug charges," Simon added. "That takes away so much of the power that this unnamed person had when you finally see their face."