CALERA, Ala. (AP) — The husband of an online exhibitionist whose partially nude body was found outside her suburban home was arrested Thursday in her killing, an Alabama police chief said.
William Jeffrey West, 44, is being charged with murder in the death of his 42-year-old wife, Kathleen Dawn West, Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley said at a news conference.
“He was the suspect from the very beginning,” Lemley said.
Court records weren’t available to show whether West had an attorney. Bond was set at $500,000, a jail log showed.
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West worked as an unsworn campus police officer at Birmingham-Southern College, where spokeswoman Hannah Wolfson said he had been placed on leave and is being fired.
Kathleen Dawn West described herself as a full-time wife and mom on Facebook but lived another life on other social media platforms. With a resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, she called herself an exhibitionist and posted risque photos with a chance for subscribers to see sexier images for $15.99 a month.
Her body was found Jan. 13 by a passing motorist near the curb across the street from her home in the quiet bedroom community of Calera, a town of 14,000 people about 35 miles south of Birmingham. Lemley said she died of blunt force trauma to the head. He wouldn’t discuss how she came to be in the street, whether she was killed inside or outside her house or what police believe triggered the killing.
The slain woman’s parents had no immediate comment on the arrest. After the slaying, mother Nancy Martin posted a photo of her smiling daughter and son-in-law on Facebook, and in a post seeking money for funeral expenses she referred to “Kat” as “a cherished wife to Jeff, as well as a loving mother to their daughter.”
On Facebook, Kathleen Dawn West had posted lots of selfies and commenters often mentioned her attractiveness. There were also photos of her wedding and images of West and her daughter playing in the snow in December.
But she seemed like a different person on other online accounts.
With a personal description that included “exhibitionist,” West had a private Instagram account with nearly 52,000 followers that linked to a paid site featuring adult content and “naughty fun.” Some of the images were included on a site for “mature hotties.”
After the killing, at least two Facebook pages popped up with thousands of members who discussed the case and speculated about it. Participants had sharply criticized police for not making an arrest sooner.
Lemley said it took weeks to gather and analyze evidence. He said the arrest came just two days after his officers received their final report on the case from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. The FBI also assisted Calera police investigators with “cellphone technology,” he said, but did not elaborate.
Because the victim wasn’t in the home, where most domestic killings happen, and she wasn’t fully clothed, Lemley said it took time for investigators to piece together the circumstances of the crime.
He said he believes the husband knew about his wife’s online persona, but wouldn’t say if investigators suspect an argument over that led to the killing. He said he couldn’t say whether the husband was OK with what she was doing online.
Lemley said the couple’s young daughter was not home at the time of the slaying or when her father was arrested at the house Thursday morning.
“It’s a tragedy all the way around for everyone involved,” Lemley said.