Arrest made in Labor Day cold case

The Facebook profile picture of Michael DeVaughn, who is charged with capital murder and sexual battery in connection with the highly-publicized Labor Day cold case


A man is behind bars and charged with capital murder and sexual battery as the suspect in a cold case that has garnered widespread attention over nearly three decades.

On Saturday night, multiple sources confirmed that investigators with the Starkville Police Department arrested Michael Devaughn on the two felony charges.

The arrest comes after a lengthy and highly-publicized investigation into the death of Betty Jones and the assault of Kathryn Crigler on Labor Day in 1990.

The incident occurred at Crigler's home in the 300 block of Lee Street in Starkville, now named Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, across from the Sunflower Grocery Store.

SPD previously said the suspect entered the residence and killed Jones and raped and assaulted Crigler, who survived to call 911.

Crigler was transported to OCH Regional Medical Center, where a rape kit was performed.

The suspect’s DNA profile was developed from the rape kit, but Crigler succumbed to her injuries a couple of months after the incident.

Few details have been released about Devaughn up to this point, but SPD Public Information Officer Brandon Lovelady said there will be a press conference on Monday.

"When we have an official time, we will put that out," he said.

The Starkville Daily News previously reported that technology has offered certain breaks in the case that were unavailable when the crime occurred.

SPD Sgt. Bill Lott was named the lead investigator of the Labor Day Murder Case in 2004 and in 2005 he submitted the suspect’s DNA to Scale’s Biological Laboratory, which would lead to the development of the suspect’s semen-based profile for the first time in the case’s history.

With the DNA gathered from the crime scene, an analysis was conducted at Parabon Nanolabs, which creates a facial composite through DNA phenotyping.

The case has since gained notoriety through inclusion on programs like “America’s Most Wanted.”

Jones’ step-grandson Jason B. Jones, recently produced a podcast titled “Knock, Knock” looking at the Labor Day cold case that gained a substantial following.

When asked how he felt upon learning that an arrest had been made in the case, Jones said he was beyond grateful to the Starkville Police Department for their diligence.

“We’re emotional and there are conflicting feelings,” he said. “There’s a lot of sorrow when you see the person.”

Jones then said the point of his podcast was to give credit where credit is due in the investigation, which he said was the culmination of years of hard work on the part of local police.

“One of the things I’ve been thinking about, so many names were brought up (as suspects),” Jones said. “The thing I’m thinking is, those people who were suspects in the past deserve an apology.”