An Alabama detective said he was surprised to receive a phone call this week in which a man phoned up the Decatur Police station to confess to a 25-year-old cold case murder.
Decatur Police Det. Sean Mukaddam told Oxygen.com that he had been sitting at his desk Wednesday when dispatch reached out to him to let him know there was a man on the phone who wanted to confess to a murder.
“He just immediately says, ‘Hey I want to confess to a murder that I did years ago. I shot and killed somebody,’” Mukaddam said.
Mukaddam was initially skeptical about the “odd phone call” especially because the caller — later identified as Johnny Dwight Whited — didn’t remember the year of the killing.
But Mukaddam said Whited was able to recall the road where the killing took place and some basic details about the victim, including that it had been a white male who was shot.
Using a chart the department maintains to track all of its homicides, Mukaddam was able to identify the victim as Christopher Alvin Daily, who was killed by a single gunshot wound on April 26, 1995, according to a statement from police.
After asking specific questions about the case that “only he would know,” Whited arranged to meet with police and take them back to the scene of the crime, where he was able to re-enact what happened.
“We went to a wooded area and he re-enacted the crime scene and showed us where the cars were parked and showed us what happened at the crime scene,” Mukaddam said.
From there, police said Whited led them to where the car had been dumped into the Tennessee River. A factory has now been built in that spot, but Whited was able to “give us information like specific things about the vehicle and how it was in the water.”
Investigators had worked the case for years but were never able to come up with any suspects in the case given the “random” nature of the crime.
“Those officers did a great job on their initial investigation and they continued over the years and unfortunately it just got the point where there were no more leads to follow, there was no more evidence to chase, and it became cold,” Mukaddam said.
According to Mukaddam, Whited decided to make the surprising confession because of his declining health.
“He’s terminally ill and he’s getting close, I think in his mind, to meet his maker, and he wanted to confess everything and give closure to the family at least,” he said.
Mukaddam declined to speak about a motive but said the two men had not known each other before the fatal shooting.
“They met and this occurred shortly thereafter,” he said.
Now, 25 years after the shooting, Mukaddam said Whited appeared remorseful for the crime.
“He said he was sorry and he wished it never happened,” he said. “He blamed it on his state of mind at the time. Obviously, that’s not an excuse for killing somebody. There’s really no excuse for killing somebody else.”
After leading investigators to the crime scene, Whited was taken to the Decatur Police station where he was questioned in greater detail and arrested.
Griff Belser, an attorney for Whited, told The New York Times he wanted to speak with his client before commenting on the arrest.
Whited is now facing charges of murder and is being held at the Morgan County Jail on a $15,000 bond, authorities said.
After the arrest was made, Mukaddam went to the home of Daily’s sister to give her the news that an arrest had been made after 25 years.
“I was able to go find her and surprise her at 8:30 p.m. at night and give her that news,” he said. “She was very, very, very grateful that she was able to have closure after 25 years of having unanswered questions.”
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