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Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 7:01 PM
CALERA, Ala. — An Alabama man charged with killing his wife, whose slaying last month unveiled her double life as an online exhibitionist, is accused of beating her to death with a bottle of absinthe, court records show.
The partially-clothed body of Kathleen Dawn “Kat” West, 42, of Calera, was discovered lying in the road in front of her home just after 5 a.m. on Jan. 18, Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley said in a Thursday news conference. She lived there with her husband, William Jeffrey West, and their 12-year-old daughter.
Jeff West, 44, was arrested Thursday and charged with murder. According to Shelby County Jail records, he was being held Friday in lieu of $500,000 bond.
The couple’s daughter was not home when her mother was killed.
Lemley said Thursday that Jeff West was the department’s chief suspect from the beginning of the investigation, though Kat West’s “online professional activities” warranted investigators’ attention.
He declined to specify what evidence pointed them toward her husband.
“Let me say this. We are still restricted, very restricted, on what information that can be given out,” Lemley said. “The case is still under investigation, even though we have made an arrest. But, the case has to go to trial as well.”
The West murder case has shone a national spotlight on small-town Calera, due mainly to the more salacious details of Kat West’s life. Though she described herself on social media as a full-time stay-at-home wife and mother, she operated a subscription-only adult website where she went by the name “Kitty Kat West.” The public page boasted a suggestive photo and promised users that, for a monthly $15.99 subscription fee, they could get more risqué material beyond the paywall.
Her Twitter account, also listed under her stage name, directs viewers to the paid adult website, as well. Kat West’s bio on the adult site, which was still live as of Friday, described the site, in part, as “hundreds of pics of ALL me, having some naughty fun.”
In the days immediately following the slaying, Kat West’s mother, Nancy Martin, wrote on Facebook that it seemed “impossible for the extreme sadness and grief we feel (over) the loss of our beautiful daughter, Kat, to ever diminish.” She described her daughter as a “cherished wife to Jeff” and a loving mother to their own young daughter.
A fundraiser in Kat West’s name was established, but quickly ended as the case became more public.
On Jan. 24, Martin changed her profile picture to one of her daughter and son-in-law. It remained there as of Friday afternoon.
See Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley’s news conference, recorded by WBRC in Birmingham, below.
Lemley said that investigators interviewed many witnesses in the case, as well as collecting a lot of evidence that needed to be processed. Four detectives were assigned to the case, two of them full-time.
“Evidence takes time to process,” the police chief said. “And we have to wait on that evidence to come in so we can connect all the dots.”
Detectives were awaiting analysis on a final piece of evidence from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. That final report was issued on Tuesday and, after a thorough review by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, a warrant was issued for Jeff West’s arrest, the chief said.
“We know exactly what happened, for the most part, on this case.” Lemley said. “I mean, we can’t tell you verbatim what was being said one way or the other, but we know what happened that night. We do have evidence to support that.”
The chief credited neighboring Shelby County law enforcement agencies, state agencies and the FBI with assisting in the investigation.
Lemley again declined to go into detail about the evidence, but Jeff West’s arrest warrant, obtained by AL.com, indicates that Kat West was killed with a bottle of Lucid Absinthe. An autopsy found that the victim died of blunt force trauma to the head.
The court documents state that, when a 19-year-old neighbor left for work Jan. 18, she found Kat West face-down on the ground in nothing but a sports bra, her body half in the roadway and half in the yard of the home across the street. A cellphone was found nearby, along with a green liquor bottle.
Lucid Absinthe is sold in green bottles.
TV news magazine Inside Edition on Jan. 25 aired surveillance footage from R&R Wine and Liquor, in Calera, that shows Kat West, just about eight hours before she was killed, walk into the liquor store with a man who appears to be her husband. In the video, the couple looks happy and playful.
“They came in (and) it looked like they were on their date night,” store clerk Stacey Oglesby told Inside Edition.
The couple bought two things that night: Lucid Absinthe and Jameson Irish Whiskey, Oglesby said.
Lemley said it was not completely clear what could have happened between the couple’s visit to the liquor store, when they appeared happy, and when Kat West was bludgeoned to death.
“It’s a domestic. Unfortunately, domestics turn bad pretty quickly,” Lemley said. “Anything can trigger it.”
Jeff West, a military veteran, works as an unsworn police officer at Birmingham Southern College, AL.com reported. Officials at the school said they are in the process of terminating his employment.
Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 9:06 PM
GOLDEN ISLES, Ga. — A boater discovered a strange sea creature that washed ashore on a southeast Georgia beach.
Jeff Warren said he spotted the deceased animal Friday afternoon with his son at Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge in Golden Isles, Georgia.
At first, Warren thought the creature was a dead seal, but upon further investigation, he described it as looking more like a "Loch Ness-type thing."
With its elongated neck and small head, the sea animal, in a way, appeared to look like an animal from prehistoric times.
Action News Jax reached out to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more information on what kind of animal it could be.
Director Dan Ashe said some sea animals have a way of decomposing where they can resemble a Plesiosaur.
Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 8:39 PM
CINCINNATI — A 3-year-old girl died Sunday, just days after her babysitter was indicted on charges of felonious assault and felony child endangering.
Hannah Wesche was essentially “brain dead” at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, her father, Jason Wesche, previously said. She was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. Sunday he said in an update made later in the morning on a GoFundMe page.
As of 3:40 p.m. Sunday, the page had raised $8,332 of its $15,000 goal.
Lindsay Partin, who is accused of assaulting the 3-year-old child while in her care March 8, was free on bond Thursday after being arraigned on a felony indictment Thursday afternoon.
Partin, 35, of Hanover Township, was indicted by a Butler County grand jury on charges of felonious assault and felony child endangering. Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens set her bond at $75,000 at the arraignment.
Published: Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 10:07 PM
Updated: Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 10:07 PM
AUSTIN, Texas — Three package explosions in Austin in the past two weeks appear similar and related, authorities said Monday, and police are warning residents against taking suspicious packages inside their homes.
Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 7:47 PM
AUSTIN, Texas — UPDATE 2:30 p.m. CDT Sunday: Austin police on Sunday announced a $50,000 increase in the reward offered in exchange for any information leading to the arrest of the bomber behind three recent deadly explosions.
The increase, on top of $15,000 being offered by Gov. Greg Abbott and the $50,000 reward offered by police last week, brings the total reward amount to $115,000.
Police continued pleading for information on the bombings from the community.
Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said that the three bombing incidents within two weeks “were meant to send a message,” although they do not yet know what the bomber’s ideology and motives are.
“We’re hoping to encourage you to come forward with the addition of this tip money that’s now available,” Manley said. “The person or persons understand what that message is, and is responsible for constructing or delivering these devices, and we hope this person or persons is watching and will reach out to us before anyone else is injured or killed out of this even.”
Manley said the cooperation and support from federal partners has been “unprecedented.”
More than 500 agents between the police, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and FBI are involved in the investigation, he said. Agents have followed up on 435 leads that have resulted in 236 interviews.
Manley also described the process of the investigation, which includes 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. briefings every day. A command center, comprised of local and federal agents, has been set up to handle the deluge of tips.
“The process is complex, but it is working for us as we go through all these tips,” he said.
Manley said officers have received 735 calls for suspicious packages as of Sunday.
On March 2, 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House died after a package at his home in Northeast Austin detonated. Then, on March 12, police responded to two more package bombings in East Austin -- one that killed Draylen Mason, 17, and injured his mother, and a second attack at another home that sent a woman in her 70s to the hospital with serious injuries.
Manley said that woman is “still fighting for her life,” but would not give any further details on her condition.
Original story: Austin police and the FBI will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Sunday to announce an increase in the reward for information that leads to the arrest of the person or people responsible for the three package bombs that have killed two people and injured a third in East Austin.