Alabama man's deathbed confession solves 25-year-old murder case, but what were detectives missing earlier?

Why did the murder of Christopher Alvin Dailey go 25 years without being solved?


                            Alabama man's deathbed confession solves 25-year-old murder case, but what were detectives missing earlier?
Johnny Dwight Whited (Decatur Police Department)

DECATUR, ALABAMA: A man, Johnny Dwight Whited, has confessed to a murder he committed in 1995, wanting to lift "a weight from his chest" before his death. After taking the time to verify the confession, Alabama police arrested the man, and were finally able to close the case that had remained unsolved for over 25 years. But what was it about the case that made it so difficult to solve in the first place?

Christopher Alvin Dailey was shot dead on April 26, 1995, in Decatur, Alabama. He was 26 at the time of his death. His body was discovered by two hunters in a wooded area on George Russell Road, with a single gunshot wound in his head. About an hour and a half later, his 1983 Toyota was discovered, submerged in the Tennesee River. Despite what police claim was an extensive investigation, cops were never able to identify any potential suspects in the case, even though the case has been re-opened and re-visited a number of times in the past 25 years.

The investigation was held back by the technology of the time. According to Detective Sean Mukaddam, the detective who took down the murderer's confession 26 years after the crime, forensics back then was like "a stone wheel" compared to forensic technology available today, he told the AL.com. There was no apparent motive for murder, either. Detective Mukaddam was the one who took the confessional call from Whited, 53, of Trinity. Whited is terminally ill from lung cancer, and he wanted to make amends before getting ready to "meet his maker." Mukaddam was initially suspicious of the call, especially as Whited's confession was missing crucial details. "He didn’t know the date or the year," Detective Mukaddam said. "We were scrambling to try to figure out what he was talking about."

Consulting a chart of every single unsolved homicide in Decatur since the 1980s, and with the description of the location that was given by Whited, the police department was finally able to connect the killing of Christopher Alvin Dailey to Whited. Whited accompanied detectives to the scene of the crime, a riverfront that had changed from commercial growth in the past two decades. Whited was able to re-enact the crime for the investigators, and fill in the blanks for the investigation.

Whited has seen been charged with Dailey's murder, and is being held on a $15,000 bond awaiting trial. He is also currently awaiting trial on a methamphetamine charge — he has, over the years, accumulated a string of drug-related charges and arrests, including the discovery of a crack cocaine pipe in his glove compartment around three weeks after the death of Christopher Alvin Dailey.

Detective Mukaddam said he was able to finally contact Dailey's sister, and provide her with some measure of closure. He also praised the detective work that was done before him, allowing him to properly close out the case. "The investigators who worked on this case wrote a great book," he said. "I just got to write the last page."

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