Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Nona Dirksmeyer

Nona Dirksmeyer, Arkansas Tech sophomore and beauty queen, was murdered in her off-campus apartment on December 15, 2005. Bludgeoned and stabbed to death between final exams, she was left naked in a pool of blood, to be discovered later that evening by her boyfriend, his mother and a friend. Until Friday, March 31, the greatest mystery in this case (among cybersleuths, anyway) was why the police were delaying in arresting their only suspect and even refusing to release his name. It was widely accepted that Kevin Jones, Nona's boyfriend of nearly five years was responsible for her death. The Russellville Police Department turned over their investigative report, requesting formal charges be filed against the suspect, to the DA, David Gibbons, in mid-January. As the months passed and it appeared nothing was being done to bring Nona's murderer to justice, public patience grew thin. Meanwhile, Gibbons blamed the delay on the wait for completion of forensic testing by the State Crime Lab and the FBI. Who can fault him for that? Isn't it better to be thorough than hasty in such a serious case?

Prior to Kevin Jones's arrest, there seemed little to write about regarding this case. It's always the oddities and inconsistent details that catch my eye. Granted, the circumstances of the discovery of Nona's demise were enough to raise my eyebrow, but there seemed little mystery as to who was to blame. It appeared that Kevin had slain his girlfriend in a fit of rage and concocted a scheme to deflect attention from himself and involve his mother and a friend in his device. Allegedly concerned about Nona because he hadn't heard from her all day, Kevin and his unwitting partners entered Nona's apartment to find the scene of a violent crime. 911 calls were made and the investigation begun. It didn't take long to narrow the list of suspects down. Within a week, evidence was being tested, statements had been taken, and polygraphs had been administered, narrowing the field to one -- Kevin Jones, though not publicly named.

Now that Jones is in custody, more interesting details have been released, and it's easy to see why Russellville's finest honed in on the boyfriend from the beginning.

  • Kevin Jones had allegedly last spoken to Nona via telephone at approximately 1:30 am on December 15. He received a text message from her at 9:07 am. There is no indication that he made any attempt to contact her again until 4:10 that afternoon. Yet by 6:30 pm (less than ten hours since he'd heard from her), he was so concerned that he enlisted the help of Ryan Whiteside, a friend who worked as a pizza deliveryman in Russellville, to check up on Nona. Upon learning from Ryan that Nona's car was at the complex, but she didn't answer her door, Kevin diverted his mother from attending a Christmas party in Dardanelle to accompany him to Nona's apartment.
  • Kevin was one of only three people who had a key to Nona's apartment, the other two being Nona and her mother. When he arrived at her complex with his mother, he couldn't get in because the front door was locked and he'd forgotten his key. He and Whiteside went around to the sliding glass door. It was also locked, but with some force, he was able to pry it open because the burglar bar was missing.
  • Upon entering the house, Kevin ran to Nona's body and laid on top of her, rubbing his hands in the blood, ostensibly to see how fresh it was.
  • Kevin volunteered to one officer that he watched a lot of Law & Order.
  • Kevin's bloody finger and palm prints were found on the murder weapon, a floor lamp laying in three pieces near the victim. He denied having touched the lamp after the body was found, and Ryan Whiteside's statement corroborates this claim -- Kevin touched only the body and a greeting card.
It appears obvious that he was attempting to corrupt the forensic evidence by laying across the body and rubbing his hands in the blood, but I'm curious about his handling of the greeting card. I suppose the significance of that will become more apparent in time. I'm even more curious about why Nona was nude. She had already been out that day to take a final exam at 8:00 am. It's safe to assume that she dressed appropriately for that. There was no sign of sexual assault. Did Kevin undress her to try to make it appear that was the motive of her perpetrator?

Aside from Kevin's behavior in response to finding his girlfriend murdered, the creepiest detail released is a text message that Kevin sent to Nona at 4:28 pm: "U ALIVE". That, in addition to his attempt to tamper with the crime scene and his spontaneous remark about watching a lot of Law & Order, causes me to question the impulsiveness of the murder. Perhaps, it wasn't strictly a crime of passion, but instead something that Kevin had fantasized about before -- an act that wasn't triggered until December 15, 2005. According to the autopsy, Nona Dirksmeyer died around 11 am. At 11:04 am, she received a text message on her cell phone to which she didn't respond. The content of that message is yet to be released, but I surmise it's possible that this was the touch-paper for detonation of Kevin Jones's lethal temper.

Informative articles about the case here and here.