The Murder of College Student Katherine Foster

Case Went Cold for Over 20 Years Until a Childhood Friend Was Charged

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A 47-year-old woman living in a homeless shelter in Jackson, Mississippi has been arrested for a murder that took place in Alabama 28 years ago. Jamie Kellam Letson is being held on $500,000 bond in Mobile for the February 1980 shooting death of her longtime friend Katherine Foster, a student at the University of South Alabama when she was killed.

Letson, who was 19 at the time, and the 18-year-old Katherine Foster were friends who grew up together in Pascagoula, Mississippi. On Feb. 23, 1980, Foster was a freshman at South Alabama in Mobile. When Foster went missing, a group of 50 volunteer students searched two days for her near the university and she was found in a wooded area near the campus.

No Signs of Assault

When she was found, there were few signs of foul play, except for the two bullet holes in her head and the blood underneath her hair. Investigators said her makeup was on, her hair brushed and her clothes neat and clean. There were no bruises on her body or any indication of sexual assault.

Five days after the murder, police found a .22 caliber pistol at a nearby pond, but the gun turned out not to be the murder weapon, which has never been found.

Few Clues Over the Years

Three years after Foster's death, police thought they had another suspect when a university security guard committed suicide. In his home, they found an extensive collection of material related to the Foster case, including the autopsy report, news articles, and poems that the guard wrote about Foster.

They also found in his garage a secure room with a mattress in which someone could have been hidden. But investigators determined that Michael Maris, the dead guard, had an alibi for the time of Foster's disappearance and he was ruled out as a suspect.

Letson, who has served time for theft and bank fraud, was previously questioned by police in connection with the case because she was a longtime friend of Foster, but the case had been cold for more than 25 years until recently.

Assistant District Attorney Jo Beth Murphree would not tell reporters what evidence led to the arrest of Letson after 28 years.

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Montaldo, Charles. "The Murder of College Student Katherine Foster." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Montaldo, Charles. (2021, February 16). The Murder of College Student Katherine Foster. Retrieved from Montaldo, Charles. "The Murder of College Student Katherine Foster." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).