Woman released after boyfriend charged with murder in Kannapolis
Update: A Kannapolis woman questioned by police yesterday after her boyfriend was charged with first-degree murder has been released.
Kannapolis Police Capt. Pat Patty said no charges were filed against Misty Dawn Hernandez, but police said they plan to interview her again about the homicide.
Hernandez’s boyfriend, Jasper Joe Whitman, 36, was charged yesterday afternoon with murder in the death of his roommate Davis Gilyard.
Police began searching for Hernandez and Whitman, who were last seen driving a green Isuzu Rodeo. They were stopped by authorities on northbound Interstate 85 in Davidson County on Wednesday.
By Nathan Hardin
KANNAPOLIS — Police charged a Kannapolis man Wednesday with first-degree murder after finding his roommate’s body in the trunk of a car on Lane Street.
Jasper Joe Whitman, 36, and his girlfriend Misty Dawn Hernandez, 29, were stopped heading north on Interstate 85 in Davidson County on Wednesday afternoon.
Whitman was immediately taken into custody on two probation violation charges. He was charged a short time later with the murder of Davis Gilyard.
Hernandez was still being interviewed at the Kannapolis Police Department on Wednesday night and had not been charged.
Gilyard had been reported missing around Tuesday evening. Police investigating a suspicious vehicle report found Gilyard’s body in the trunk of his 2004 Chevrolet Impala at 2501 Lane St., a lot where freight trailers were parked near a woodline. It appeared someone tried to conceal the car in a gap next to one of the trailers, police said.
‘A good man’
Whitman, his estranged wife Katherine Sides and Gilyard lived together at 110 Akron Ave. Three children who also lived in the home are staying with friends and relatives, according to neighbors and authorities.
Police received a call that Gilyard was missing about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
According to a press release, officers “suspected unusual circumstances based on what was reported and the condition of the residence” on Akron Avenue when they went there to investigate the missing persons report.
Around the same time, authorities got a call about a suspicious vehicle in the lot on Lane Street. They determined it was linked to the Akron Avenue call and eventually found Gilyard’s body in the trunk.
Investigators worked through the night to process the two crime scenes, one in Rowan and the other in Cabarrus County.
A notification was sent out to neighboring law enforcement agencies Wednesday morning with a description of Whitman’s green 1997 Isuzu Rodeo. The N.C. State Highway Patrol and Rowan County Sheriff’s Office began following Whitman’s vehicle after he and Hernandez left an East Spencer home Wednesday.
Before Whitman’s arrest, Katherine Sides said she didn’t witness the murder but believed her estranged husband was involved.
Sides said she noticed Gilyard was missing earlier 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.”
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.
It wasn’t clear Wednesday evening who reported Gilyard missing.
Neighbors and relatives described a volatile situation in the Akron Avenue home fueled by substance abuse.
Sides said she and Whitman are separated and Whitman is now in a relationship with Hernandez.
Sides sat on a porch across from the taped-off Akron Avenue home Wednesday morning.
“I’m hurt and messed up and more shocked than anything,” she said.
Sides was emotional, often yelling and cursing at Whitman’s parents when they came to the scene.
Authorities arrested her Wednesday afternoon after she threatened to kill her father-in-law, Tommy Duty, at his Buena Street home, according to an arrest warrant. She was charged with disorderly conduct and communicating threats. She was in jail Wednesday night on a $1,500 bond.
According to court records, Sides was charged about a week ago with injury to real property and resisting a public officer after authorities said she shattered the windows of Duty’s home.
Sides was also served an existing warrant Wednesday for harassing phone calls. The warrant was taken out previously by Hernandez.
Hernandez’s sister, Kristin Allman, was also at the scene Wednesday morning. Before Whitman and Hernandez were stopped by officers on I-85, Allman said she feared for her sister’s safety.
“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 and they didn’t want him to go back to prison.
Whitman has a history of alcohol and substance abuse, neighbors said and court reports show. Empty beer cans filled a bucket on the home’s front porch.
According to the state Department of Correction 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 was still investigating Wednesday night.
Police ask anyone with information about the crime to call 704-920-4000 or Cabarrus County Crime Stoppers at 704-932-7463.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.
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