JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) – The sailor accused of brutally stabbing a transgender woman to death in a St. Martin hotel on July 23 appeared before a Jackson County judge Monday morning.
During the hearing, Deputy Leo Allen, with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, took the stand and revealed gruesome details about what investigators found in the hotel room that evening.
According to Allen, autopsy results show 25-year-old Dee Whigham was stabbed 119 times. The deputy said many of the stab wounds were to her face, and her throat was slashed three times.
Allen said surveillance video from July 23 taken at the Best Western Hotel just north of I-10 shows Dwanya Hickerson, 20, and Whigham walking into a hotel room together around 8:30 p.m.
About 23 minutes later, according to Allen, Hickerson was seen leaving the room alone with his shirt hanging across his neck. Allen said in that time, Hickerson took a shower in the room and left the water running.
Whigham’s friends called 911 after finding her body around 9:45 p.m., Allen said. The friends told deputies they did not know Hickerson.
Allen said investigators are still working to determine the relationship between Hickerson and Whigham.
Investigators found several items missing from the room Whigham and her friends were staying in, according to Allen. He said Whigham’s cell phone and a Coach bag containing personal items were among the items reported missing.
Allen said authorities did not find any of these 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 two days after the killing. He is charged with capital murder.
Hickerson was a sailor stationed Keesler for training. Allen said an instructor on the base identified Hickerson as the man in surveillance video released by the sheriff’s department.
Allen said investigators 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.
The attorney representing Hickerson requested the case be dismissed during Monday’s hearing. The judge denied that request. Now, the evidence will be presented to a grand jury.