The 1990 Labor Day Murders: Investigative Genetic Genealogy Comes Knocking in Starkville, Mississippi

Wednesday September 15th, 2021 // 2:00 pm - 2:25 pm // Fiesta Ballroom

On Sept 3, 1990, a young man knocked on Katherine Crigler’s door on Old Highway 82 in Starkville, MS. Katherine’s friend and caretaker, 61-year-old Betty Jones, answered the door and was immediately stabbed, dying before the man sexually assaulted her body. He then turned to Crigler, 81 years-old and in a wheelchair, viciously raping and strangling her, leaving her for dead. Crigler miraculously initially survived the ordeal and was able to describe the assailant to investigators –  a blond, blue-eyed man in his early 20s, but then tragically died from her injuries weeks later after learning of Betty’s fate.


Despite extensive efforts, for almost three decades, the case went unsolved. Determined to bring justice for Katherine and Betty, Starkville Police Detective Bill Lott used every tool available to him with no success, until he learned about investigative genetic genealogy and quickly embraced this promising technique.


Within days of receiving results from GEDmatch and overcoming complex genealogical challenges, investigative genetic genealogy analysis led to two brothers, one of whom had to be Katherine and Betty’s killer. Detective Lott quickly zeroed in on one of the brothers, Michael DeVaughn, collecting his DNA and comparing it to the crime scene genetic profile. It was a match!


After almost thirty years of dedicated efforts by Starkville police, the power of investigative genetic genealogy was able to identify the man responsible for this horrific crime in only a few days of investigation, quickly leading to his arrest. Eventually, DeVaughn pleaded guilty to capital murder for the 1990 deaths and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


Private: CeCe Moore

Chief Genetic Genealogist, Parabon

CeCe Moore, Chief Genetic Genealogist at Parabon, is the leading authority on investigative genetic genealogy (IGG), successfully collaborating with hundreds of law enforcement agencies across North America. Her small team boasts the unparalleled track record of 175 successful identifications of violent criminals and unidentified decedents, averaging one solved case per week. CeCe’s cutting edge work has led to the first conviction, the first conviction through jury verdict, and the first exoneration in cases where the suspect was identified through investigative genetic genealogy.

Submit Questions