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Grand Jury Indicts Alabama Man Two Years After He Allegedly Confessed To 1995 Cold Case Murder
A grand jury indicted Johnny Dwight Whited, who is reportedly dying from lung cancer, two years after police say he called and confessed to the 1995 cold case murder of Christopher Dailey.
An Alabama man who called a Decatur Police detective two years ago and allegedly confessed to a then 25-year-old cold case murder was indicted by a grand jury last month, according to WAFF, a local television station.
Jonny Dwight Whited, 55, is accused of intentionally causing the death of Christopher Alvin Dailey, 26, in 1995 by shooting him with a handgun, the station reported.
Detective Sean Mukaddam previously told Oxygen.com that, in November 2020, he was sitting at his desk when he was told that there was someone on the telephone who wanted to confess to a murder.
That someone turned out to be Whited, who was dying from stage four lung cancer, according to numerous media outlets.
“He just immediately says, ‘Hey I want to confess to a murder that I did years ago. I shot and killed somebody,’” Mukaddam said.
He later added: “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.”
The detective said that Whited was able to provide specific details about the case, including where it took place along with some information about the victim, that allowed them to identify Whited's alleged victim as Dailey.
Investigators had worked the Dailey case for decades but had made little headway until Whited’s alleged confession.
After arranging to meet with police, they said, Whited took them to the crime scene and re-enacted what happened.
“We went to a wooded area, and he re-enacted the crime and showed us where the cars were parked and showed us what happened at the crime scene,” Mukaddam said.
Dailey's family reported him missing on April 26, 1995. He was last seen the day before at a meeting at the Huntsville Hilton Hotel, where he worked as a server.
Dailey’s body was later discovered in a wooded area, and police said he had a gunshot wound to the head. The coroner ruled his death a homicide.
Whited would have been 29 at the time.
Dailey’s 1983 Toyota Tercel was later found partially submerged in the Tennessee River with a rock tied to the accelerator. After his alleged confession, Whited led police to the same area, according to the Washington Post.
That’s when Mukaddam started to believe that Whited’s confession was real and not an elaborate hoax.
“Yeah, he could have rehearsed it, but it really started to click then,” he told the newspaper. “He gave me specifics about the vehicle and how it entered the river — things only crime scene techs would know.”
Whited was arrested, but later released after posting a $15,000 bond, according to the Times Daily.
Whited’s court-appointed attorney, Griff Besler, told Oxygen.com on Wednesday that he had not been formally notified of that indictment, but his understanding was that it had occurred.
He said that he had not spoken to Whited in a while, but planned to enter a not guilty plea at his client’s arraignment in June.
Besler has previously said that it was his “understanding” that Whited was suffering from stage 4 lung cancer, but he did not have any updates about Whited’s health.
“I intend to proceed just as I would in any other criminal case,” Besler said. “I’ll review any and all evidence and begin preparing a trial strategy for his defense.”
Authorities have never revealed a possible motive for the shooting.
Whited had several arrests for traffic and drug offenses, according to the Associated Press. He was arrested for possession of a crack cocaine pipe about three weeks after Dailey’s body was discovered.