Michael DeVaughn

Michael Wayne DeVaughn was arrested on October 6, 2018 and charged in the rape and murder of Betty Jones and Kathryn Crigler on September 3rd, 1990 in Starkville, Mississippi. These killings came to be known as the ‘Labour Day Murders’.

The two friends were at home together on Labor Day when they heard a knock on the door. A man answered, and when 65-year-old Jones tried to fend him off he cut her throat. She died at the scene. The man sexually assaulted Crigler, then 81 years old. Crigler had recently had her leg amputated, yet she managed to survive, and was able to crawl to the kitchen to phone 911. Crigler passed away from her injuries in a nursing home two months later. She reported being very sorry for her friend’s death, for which she blamed herself.

A DNA profile of the offender was obtained from the sexual assault kit performed on Crigler. It was not common for a sexual assault kit to be done at that time. As with many sexual assault kits, the DNA was not profiled immediately, and it was not until 2005 that a profile of the suspect was obtained. This resulted in no hits in CODIS.

Betty Jones’ step-grandsons, Jason and Simon Jones, created a podcast to bring attention to the cold case and try to find some justice for their grandmother. They were able to raise funds to continue the investigation.

This enabled Parabon to conduct the FGG investigation. The initial confirmation was made through police surveillance, followed by the surreptitious sampling of a cigarette butt that had been discarded by DeVaughn.

DeVaughn pled guilty to capital murder on November 17, 2020. In return for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped the other charges, including the sexual battery charge against Crigler, and they withdrew their request for the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He had little prior criminal record, except for some drug offences. He may have been a user of methamphetamine.

After DeVaughn’s arrest, Simon Jones told David Krajicek that his grandmother’s killer was no longer a ‘bogeyman’, stating, “I see this guy on my phone and on TV, and he’s just a sad-looking dude with recent drug charges… That takes away so much of the power that this unnamed person had when you finally see their face.”


Altman, Isabelle. “Rienzi Man to Serve Life for 30-Year-Old Starkville Murder.” The Dispatch, November 18, 2020. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=84704.

Holloway, Alex. “Devaughn Pleads Not Guilty to Labor Day Murder Charges.” Commercial Dispatch, January 31, 2019. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=71476.

Krajicek, David J. “How a DNA Database Helped Solve a Horrific Double Murder.” New York Daily News, August 25, 2019. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/ny-justice-story-mississippi-murders-20190825-nq6o32rrm5b3xjcuvpvuwhj3du-story.html.

LeMaster, C.J. “3 On Your Side Investigates: The Labor Day Murder.” WLBT 3 News, October 17, 2018. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://www.wlbt.com/2018/10/18/your-side-investigates-labor-day-murder/.

Moore, William. “Capital Murder Suspect Led a Quiet Life.” Daily Journal, October 9, 2018. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://www.djournal.com/news/capital-murder-suspect-led-a-quiet-life/article_c78f9280-bb77-52f4-a180-3ec9ab5abb29.html.

Poe, Katie. “Suspect Arrested, Bond Set in Labor Day Murders Case.” The Reflector, October 8, 2018, last modified September 19, 2020. Accessed December 13, 2020. http://www.reflector-online.com/news/article_04608d7e-cb25-11e8-93f7-f742437a362d.html


First Name Michael
Last Name DeVaughn
Other Names
Victims 2 (Details)
IGG Started nd
Case Cleared 2018-10-06
IGG Org Parabon


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
1126 Betty Jones 65 1990-09-03 Starkville, MS Starkville PD First degree murder Guilty plea entered by defendant Oktibbeha CO CIR CT
1127 Kathryn Crigler 81 1990-09-03 Starkville, MS Starkville PD Second degree murder Accused was not charged with this offense but has been charged with one or more other more serious offenses Oktibbeha CO CIR CT

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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Case data and narrative licensed under CC BY 4.0: Dowdeswell, Tracey (2023), “Forensic Genetic Genealogy Project v. 2022”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/jcycgvhm96.1. All other content, including photos, have been added.