Suspect indicted for capital murder, sexual battery in Labor Day case

Michael Wayne Devaughn was lead into City Hall for his initial appearance in October 2018 (SDN File Photo)

Ryan Phillips
SDN Editor

An Oktibbeha County grand jury has indicted a Rienzi man for capital murder and sexual battery in connection with the 1990 Labor Day murder case that has gained widespread attention.

Michael Wayne Devaughn, who was 51 at the time of his arrest last October, was served an indictment on Tuesday, after being named the lone murder suspect in the Sept. 3, 1990 death and sexual assault of Betty Jones at a residence in the 300 block of Lee Street, now Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.

After he was in the home, which was owned and occupied by Kathryn Crigler, Devaughn is accused of also sexually assaulting Crigler.

Crigler died shortly after the attack, but was able to provide some details about the single suspect to investigators.

District Attorney Scott Colom, whose office is prosecuting the case, told the Starkville Daily News on Tuesday that the death penalty was on the table in regards to the state’s case against Devaughn, but his office has not yet made a final decision.

“We will carefully consider the nature of the crime and consult with the victim’s family and go from there,” he said.

After 28 years of chasing leads, DNA evidence led to the arrest of Devaughn as the single suspect.

The Starkville Daily News previously reported Devaughn was arrested in October 2018 on one count of capital murder and one count of sexual battery, after the DNA from a discarded cigarette butt matched DNA evidence from the scene of the crime.

The affidavit from his arrest states Devaughn killed Jones by “cutting her throat with a knife.”

His bond was set at $10 million for his charge of capital murder and $1 million for his charge of sexual battery.

There are currently no additional suspects in the case.

Devaughn was transferred into the custody of the Oktibbeha County Jail after being arrested in another county.

Prior to his arrest by Starkville authorities, Devaughn was out on bond for an unrelated felony charge from the Tishomingo County Sheriff’s Office.

Tishomingo County Sheriff John Daugherty confirmed Devaughn was arrested on a drug-related charge in June for a felony possession of methamphetamine.