Body found in trunk in Kannapolis

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Update: Jasper Joe Whitman has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of an Akron Avenue man. Police are continuing to interview Misty Dawn Hernandez. 
1:46 p.m. update from Kannapolis Police:
Information was received by our agency that Jasper Joe Whitman and Misty Dawn Hernandez were at a residence in East Spencer. The information was relayed to those agencies who eventually located the vehicle. The vehicle left that residence and was eventually stopped on Interstate I-85 near the Exit 88 Interchange in Davidson County. Agencies who assisted with the stop were the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Spencer Police Department and Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.
Whitman was immediately taken in custody because of his wanted status by the NC Department of Corrections for a probation violation. These specific charges were not related to this incident. He was transported back to the police department for processing.
Hernandez was also transported back to the police department. At the time of this release, she has not been charged with any crime. Both parties are still in the interview process at the agency.
By Nathan Hardin
KANNAPOLIS — A Kannapolis woman says her estranged husband was involved in the death of the couple’s roommate.
Davis Gilyard’s body was found inside a car trunk on Lane Street this morning, authorities said. Officers said they are searching for Jasper Joe Whitman, 36, of 110 Akron Ave., where he lived with his wife, Katherine Sides, and Gilyard, who was identified in warrants for Whitman’s arrest.
Authorities are also looking for Misty Dawn Hernandez, 29.
Whitman and Hernandez have not been called suspects, however, Whitman is wanted on an unrelated probation violation charge.
Sides, who sat on the porch across from the taped-off Akron Avenue home today, told the Post she didn’t witness the murder, but believes her husband was involved.
“I’m hurt and messed up and more shocked than anything,” she said.
Three children who also lived in the home are staying with friends and relatives, according to neighbors and authorities.
Sides said she noticed the couple’s roommate was missing Tuesday, but she thought he was at work.
“I realized Davis was missing about 3 o’clock yesterday,” she said. “He gets up and leaves early for work so I just thought he had gotten up early for work.”
Kannapolis Police said they got a call about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday about a missing person at the Akron Avenue home.
According to a press release, officers “suspected unusual circumstances based on what was reported and the condition of the residence once they entered.”
Shortly after, officers received another call about a suspicious vehicle at 2501 Lane St.
The Gilyard’s body was found in the trunk.
Neighbors said the victim was from Philadelphia, but he moved to North Carolina in January 2011.
“He was a damn good man. He never hurt anybody. He always tried to help people,” Sides said.
Sides said she hasn’t seen her husband since he left. Authorities say Whitman was driving a dark green 1997 Isuzu Rodeo.
Authorities said the vehicle is registered to Whitman and they believe he and Hernandez may have been the last people who saw the victim alive.
Hernandez’s sister, Kristin Allman, was also at the scene this morning. She believes Hernandez is with Whitman.
Whitman and Hernandez began seeing each other after Whitman and Sides separated.
“She shouldn’t be with someone that’s married, but I don’t want anything to happen to her,” Allman said. “I can’t get in touch with her. Nobody can find her.”
Neighbor Misty Fields said Whitman has been involved in several violent incidents in the neighborhood, but neighbors didn’t report it because he was on probation.
She said he had a history of alcohol and substance abuse. Empty beer cans filled a bucket on the home’s front porch.
According to the Department of Corrections’ website, Whitman has spent more than 11 years in prison on a number of felonious convictions.
He has been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, forgery, felony breaking and entering, first-degree burglary and several counts of assault on a female.
Kannapolis’ Felony Investigation Unit is investigating, collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses.
Kannapolis Police request anyone with information regarding this incident to call 704-920-4000 or Cabarrus County Crime Stoppers at 704-932-7463. A reward is available for anyone providing information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) in this case.