Ezell credits media for quick arrest in capital murder case
By Caray Grace| July 26, 2016 at 1:58 AM CDT - Updated July 27 at 8:47 PM
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX)
An arrest has been made in connection with the murder of Dee Whigham, a transgender woman found stabbed to death in a Jackson County hotel room over the weekend.
Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell said investigators received many tips over the weekend, but the big one came Monday morning. It led them to Keesler Air Force Base, where they arrested a 20-year-old sailor, Dwanya Hickerson, of New Orleans.
Police called it a brutal scene. Whigham, a 25-year-old Hattiesburg nurse, was found stabbed to death in a room at the Best Western near I-10 in St. Martin. Whigham was in town for the Gulf Coast Black Rodeo.
"He didn't have no hatred in his heart. He was a kind and caring person," said Malisha Whigham, who is the victim's cousin.
Over the weekend, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department released surveillance photos obtained from the hotel of a person of interest.
"It's because of the media that we were able to solve this case so fast. You know, we had the surveillance video of the suspect, which led to information coming in, which led to his arrest," said Ezell.
Hickerson, who has been charged with capital murder, is a sailor assigned to Keesler Air Force Base for training.
"We started working closely with the federal agencies, Keesler, and it just all came together for us. We've still got some more work we're doing on it, and so we should have some more information maybe tomorrow," said Ezell.
Investigators are still looking at this as a possible hate crime and are not ruling out more arrests being made.
"At this time, this is the only person that we have charged. We don't have any other information at this point that we could charge anybody else, but we're going to follow every lead. We're going to pursue everything that we can on this case so that we can make sure we've got everything done," said Ezell.
A candlelight vigil in memory of Whigham is scheduled for Wednesday at Lighthouse Community Church on Water St. in Biloxi. The vigil will start at 7 p.m. and is scheduled to last an hour.