November 24, 2020

Man indicted for murder, rape committed almost three decades ago

A northeast Mississippi man has been indicted in the 1990 Labor Day killing of one woman and rape of another, after he was arrested in August after police linked him to the crimes with DNA evidence.

Oktibbeha County grand jurors on Monday indicted Michael Wayne Devaughn of Rienzi on one count of capital murder in the stabbing death of 65-year-old Betty Jones and one count of sexual battery in the rape of 81-year-old Kathryn Crigler.

Jones and Crigler were attacked at Crigler’s Starkville home on Sept. 3, 1990.

Reports at the time said Jones’ throat was slashed by the assailant as soon as she answered the door. The assailant entered the house and raped the Crigler in a back bedroom.

Crigler, who had previously had a leg amputated, survived the assault and managed to drag herself down the hall to call police, who collected rape evidence before Crigler later died a few months later in a nursing home.

The DNA was tested years later, helping police identify Devaughn as a suspect.
District Attorney Scott Colom says Devaughn, jailed since August, will be arraigned Wednesday.

A lawyer for Devaughn didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment Tuesday.

Betty Jones’ grandsons, Jason and Simon Jones, were children when she was killed. In October, the Associated Press reported they had recently recorded a podcast about her slaying.

“I think, over the years, we’ve lost hope many, many, many times, over and over again,” Jason Jones told the Commercial Dispatch newspaper in October. “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.”