PASCAGOULA, Miss. — A Navy seaman in training accused of stabbing a transgender woman to death appeared before a Jackson County judge Monday for a preliminary hearing.
Sheriff’s Deputy Leo Allen revealed details about what investigators found in a St. Martin hotel room on July 23. Autopsy results show 25-year-old Dee Whigham was stabbed 119 times, he said. Allen said many of the wounds were to Whigham’s face, and her throat was slashed three times.
WLOX-TV reports (http://bit.ly/2capGqR ) Allen said surveillance video shows 20-year-old Dwanya Hickerson and Whigham walking into a Best Western hotel room together around 8:30 p.m. He said Hickerson was seen leaving the room alone about 23 minutes later, his shirt around his neck.
Whigham’s friends called 911 after finding her body about 9:45 p.m.
Investigators found several items missing from the room Whigham and her friends were staying in, according to Allen. He said Whigham’s cellphone and a Coach bag containing personal items also were among the things reported missing.
Allen said authorities did not find any of the items on Hickerson, but some things, including a 10-inch, fixed blade Gerber knife, were recovered on the beach near where friends said they dropped him off later that night. Some items were burned, according to Allen.
Hickerson was arrested on Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi two days after the killing. He is charged with capital murder and is being held without bond.
Allen said investigators are still working to determine the relationship between Hickerson and Whigham.
Hickerson was stationed at Keesler for training. Allen said a base instructor identified Hickerson as the man in surveillance video released by the sheriff’s department.
Allen said investigators also recovered a bloody shirt from the base after barracks surveillance video showed Hickerson throwing a large garbage bag in the trash. Allen said the shirt has been sent to the crime lab for testing.
A defense attorney asked the judge to dismiss the case during Monday’s hearing. The judge denied that request. The case now goes before a grand jury.
Information from: WLOX-TV, http://www.wlox.com