CBS' "48 Hours" will run an episode on the Labor Day murders on Saturday at 9 p.m. The episode will tell the story of the investigation into the murders of Betty Jones and Kathryn Crigler, who were attacked on Sept. 3, 1990. Starkville police made their first arrest in the case last year. Photo by: Courtesy image/CBSNews.com
Jason, left, and Simon Jones record an episode of their podcast Knock Knock at Jason's home in Nashville, Tennessee, last year. The podcast covers the life, death and investigation into the murder of their step-grandmother, Betty Jones, and her friend Kathryn Crigler, who were murdered in Starkville in 1990. The case is the subject of a "48 Hours" episode airing on CBS Saturday at 9 p.m.
Photo by: Courtesy photo
Michael Wayne Devaughn
January 11, 2019 10:44:05 AM
Editor's Note: This story has been changed to reflect the rescheduling of the program. A CBS executive contacted The Dispatch after Friday's print press time, noting the airing of the episode had been postponed from its original schedule.
Richard Schlesinger thought a "48 Hours" special might help stir enough interest in Starkville's infamous Labor Day murders to help police solve the case.
It turned out the CBS News correspondent and his crew would get a front seat to the biggest break in the case since it opened in 1990.
CBS will soon air a "48 Hours" special on the murders of 65-year-old Betty Jones and 81-year-old Kathryn Crigler. The women were attacked in Crigler's home at 306 Highway 82 E. in Starkville on Sept. 3, 1990.
Originally, CBS planned to air the event Saturday night, but a CBS executive confirmed after press time Friday the episode has been postponed due to "breaking news" and would be rescheduled.
Schlesinger said CBS picked up on the case, which was cold at the time, through the Knock Knock podcast, recorded by Jones' grandsons, Simon and Jason Jones.
"We thought the podcast was interesting and shined some light on this," Schlesinger said. "We thought maybe we could do a story to maybe help solve the case. But the police, you know, didn't really need our help."
CBS began filming the special in August. In October, Starkville Police Department arrested Michael Wayne Devaughn, of Rienzi, for capital murder and sexual battery.
Devaughn, according to affidavits SPD released after his arrest, killed Jones by cutting her throat with a knife. He also reportedly sexually assaulted Crigler, who was taken to the hospital and later died from her injuries.
However, a DNA profile was developed from a rape kit, which SPD Lt. Bill Lott used to match to Devaughn.
Schlesinger said the "48 Hours" crew had to scramble to get back to Starkville for a press conference at SPD's police station the Monday after Devaughn's arrest.
"We've not had a case change in this way," he said. "Stories change a lot mid-course but this one -- we knew it was a possibility because of all the work they were doing with Parabon (a DNA analysis laboratory based in Virginia) and all of that. But it moved a hell of a lot quicker than we thought it was going to."
Lott previously told The Dispatch that the case's file has been completed and submitted to go before a grand jury in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court.
Saturday's special will focus on the case from its beginning, using local news footage from the time, through Devaughn's arrest.
"We start at the beginning and go through the frustrations of the investigations, of which there were many, to when (former SPD Chief and the case's original investigator David Lindley) hands the case to Lott," Schlesinger said. "Then there's Lott's almost obsessive pursuit of the case through the years to where we stand now."
Simon said he and Jason enjoyed working with the "48 Hours" crew, which he described as "consummate professionals."
Still, he said they never expected any of last year's developments, from CBS' interest in Jones' and Crigler's stories to Devaughn's arrest, when they started the Knock Knock podcast.
"We kind of had a pretty low bar at the beginning," he said. "We tried to be pretty humble about it. It had to be self-funded. It started out as we, on behalf of the Jones family, want answers.
"We waited 27 years," he later added. "This was a cold case and it was nice to think that one day in the future, maybe, something might happen. But nobody was sitting around thinking as soon as we finish this thing, give it a few months and we'll have somebody in custody. And we want to be clear on this -- 100 percent of the credit goes to Bill Lott and the Starkville Police Department for finding this person, making the arrest and hopefully finally bringing someone to justice."
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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