Georgia woman's murder solved after 13 years after a pubic hair and a ring left at the crime scene led to the killer
Initially, Emily Mason's husband Walt was a suspect in the murder of the English teacher at her home in 2002; however DNA evidence led police to Phillip Kirby who killed her in a botched robbery attempt
Dr. Emily Pestana-Mason, a beloved English teacher at East Georgia College and an accomplished poet, was found in a pool of her own blood in her home on April 29, 2002. She had been brutally murdered after being chased by an intruder with a knife; before killing her the assailant had chased her twice to the bathroom where her two young kids were. He caught up with her finally and she was found face down in a pool of her own blood in the kitchen hallway.
Mason, 38, a successful woman in her own right and recipient of the Marjorie Lees Lynn Award for Poetry and the Joan Johnson Prize for Poetry, was married to Dr. Walter C. Mason, who was also a professor at the college.
Initially Walt Mason was considered a suspect in his wife's death.
According to the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court of Georgia, Walt had gone out for a Walmart run that night around 8:30 pm as his wife bathed the kids. He had called to check with her around 9:30 pm to see if she needed something else - when she didn't answer, he knew something was off.
When returned home, he had found to his horror, Emily on the floor stabbed and her shirt pulled over her breasts and her pants down to her legs. It looked like someone had wiped the blood off her lower body.
She had been stabbed thrice in the neck with a knife from the kitchen. It was deduced from her wounds and bruises that she had struggled and fought with the attacker. Walt called 911 and frantically searched for his children.
Authorities in Emanuel County arrested Walt Mason in May of 2002 for his wife's murder.
The case never went to trial, since police found crucial evidence pointing them in another direction. Moreover, the time schedule didn't match, and there was no evidence linking him to the scene. A pubic hair found at the crime scene along with a size 11 wedding ring puzzled the police. The case lay cold until 2015.
On the same day as Emily Mason's murder, a car crash was reported near the Mason home. The person driving the car was identified as Phillip Kirby. He had crashed his car into a ditch on Highway 56 less than two miles away from the crime scene. When he was questioned, he explained the blood and a gash on his arm as a result of the crash. He had also said that he had lost his ring in the accident.
Kirby was later convicted in a separate armed robbery charge and aggravated assault in 2003 and sent to prison, according to reports. He served his time of 13 years at Dodge State Prison. But when he came out, the 42-year-old changed one jumpsuit for another.
Investigators were able to match the DNA evidence from the crime scene to Kirby; Mason's daughter, who was 4 at the time of the murder, recognized Kirby as the man who had come to their home two weeks prior to fix their geyser.
The authorities said that he had staged the accident. The wedding ring found at the crime scene was a match to the one sold to Kirby in 2001. At his trial, Kirby's cellmate said that he had told him that Kirby meant to steal something from the Mason's but Emily had got in the way.
His fate was sealed. He was convicted for the murder of Dr. Emily Mason in April 2017. His appeal was rejected in 2018. He is serving time at the Coffee Correctional Facility in Nicholls.
Catch the full story on Injustice with Nancy Grace's next episode this Saturday at 9pmE/8pmC only on Oxygen.