More details emerge on Calera homicide
CALERA – A few more details have surfaced regarding the recent homicide of 42-year-old Calera resident Kathleen Dawn West, whose body was found near her residence in the 100 block of Greenwood Circle in Calera on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 13.
On her personal Facebook page, West identified herself as a full-time wife and mother. Her Twitter profile, which is listed under the handle of “kittykatwest75,” included revealing photos of her and provided a link to an adult website. According to the site’s description, West was selling “hundreds” of pornographic photos of herself and charged $15.99 per month for access.
The Shelby County Coroner’s Office confirmed that an autopsy was performed on West’s body on Monday, Jan. 15. Coroner Lina Evans said they were able to determine the cause and manner of West’s death, but are unable to release further information.
When he woke up early in the morning on Jan. 13, Kevin Wachs said he was able to immediately see authorities working on the crime scene from his house, which lies adjacent to West’s.
“I looked out of my bedroom window and I saw the Calera police outside with their spotlights and their crime tape,” Wachs said.
Since the news of her death surfaced, several of West’s neighbors said they feel uneasy about the situation and are seeking more answers.
“We don’t know if there is still a killer in our midst. Do we have a neighbor that has something dark going on their mind?” Wachs said. “Me and everybody who lives in the area is waiting for answers.”
Several neighbors said they barely knew West and her family, if at all. Because of her profession, Wachs said he feels that many people are casting too much judgment on her and her family, and that her death is a sad situation, nonetheless.
“Regardless of what she was doing as a profession, which is none of our business, it’s still very unfortunate,” Wachs said. “I don’t hold any judgment against her.”
Shortly after West’s death, a private Facebook group was set up to discuss theories about the circumstances surrounding her murder. One of the groups administrators, Melissa MacKinnon, said the group was started by members of an unofficial group known as the True Crime Society. MacKinnon said other groups have been started for similar crimes around the U.S.
“When we see something that could become something bigger, we make a facebook group,” MacKinnon said. “What really made us curious was that none of the local media or the police were talking about it.”
MacKinnon said she and other administrators have not been contacted by the police, but are willing to offer assistance if needed.
“We’d be happy to work with them,” MacKinnon said.
A second Facebook group that is centered around the homicide was later created.
On Saturday, Jan. 20, West’s mother, Nancy Martin, created a fundraiser on Facebook to help cover the costs of her funeral. As of Monday, Jan. 22, over $2,000 had been raised. In a Facebook post, Martin said West’s family is devastated at her loss and are relying on their faith.
“It seems so impossible for the extreme sadness and grief we feel as the loss of our beautiful daughter Kat to ever diminish or decrease. However, the Lord is our hope and our salvation, and he can turn mourning into comfort. God wants to encourage us and relieve our suffering, if we just go to him at all times. And his word is powerful enough to bring healing and solace, even during our darkest hours,” Martin wrote. “My family asks for your prayers and support in our time of loss. My beautiful daughter Kat was not just my daughter, but a cherished wife to Jeff, as well as a loving mother to their daughter. So much negativity is out there, but with God all I see and hear is the goodness of my Kat. My family and I ask for help in the services to lay our daughter to rest with the good Lord, to where she will be guiding her daughter and husband through this. If you’re not able to make a donation, we ask for prayers.”
CPD Chief Sean Lemley said authorities are working diligently to investigate the case, and are unable to release specific information at this time. Police said much of the information and speculation that has been posted by local media outlets, as well as via social media, has hindered their investigation.
“We’re working a homicide investigation. We can’t give out all of these details,” Lemley said. “That information that was posted out there is hurting our investigation.”
As of Friday, Jan. 19, no suspects had been taken into custody.