Thursday, February 23, 2012

Appleton, WI: Police identify Appleton woman arrested in stabbing death of man at Grand Chute hotel

APPLETON — Police say they’ve collected a wealth of physical evidence tied to Tuesday’s stabbing death of a 41-year-old man at a Grand Chute hotel, but are puzzled about the relationship between the victim and the woman they say killed him.

The woman, Mastella L. Jackson, 34, of Appleton, was arrested early Wednesday and is expected to make an initial appearance in Outagamie County Court today on charges stemming from Derrick D. Whitlow’s death at the Road Star Inn, 3623 W. College Ave.

Police recommended prosecutors file a charge of first-degree intentional homicide.
Investigators tabbed Jackson as the suspect after gathering evidence from Room 114 of the hotel, where Whitlow was found dead.

They also searched Jackson’s nearby W. Fourth Street home early Wednesday, finding a knife they think was used in the attack, before arresting her.

“I think the big question is, ‘Why did this happen?’ Grand Chute Police Chief Greg Peterson said. “What led to this situation occurring? That’s not clear to us at this point in time.”

Police accompanied firefighters and paramedics to the hotel about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday after an employee found Whitlow on the floor in the room with multiple cuts and stab wounds. Officers noted cuts to Whitlow’s hands and arms consistent with efforts to defend himself from an attack.

The hotel employee had checked on Whitlow after a neighboring guest called the front desk to tell them about a loud altercation in the room, Peterson said.

“(Hotel guests) heard the shouting, they heard arguing and they heard a call for help,” Peterson said. “They also heard a thump or a thud.”

Whitlow was dead when emergency crews arrived.

Police went to Jackson’s home — about one mile away from the hotel — on Tuesday afternoon as they talked to people who knew Whitlow.

Officers continued Wednesday to talk to people close to Whitlow, and received conflicting information about whether Jackson and Whitlow were married but estranged or divorced.

Jackson and Whitlow had common addresses in Detroit in recent years, records show.

Police say no one they talked to at the hotel saw a woman leave Whitlow’s room.

The hotel had no video surveillance to provide police, who also sought video footage from nearby businesses, though Peterson couldn’t say whether any useful footage was found.

There were at least four different exits Whitlow’s killer could’ve used to leave the hotel, Peterson said.

Police plan to send the knife, bloody bedding and other items to the State Crime Lab for forensic examination. Whitlow’s body was taken to Madison for an autopsy that was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Findings from the autopsy were not available, and Outagamie County Dist. Atty. Carrie Schneider couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

Jackson voluntarily went to the Grand Chute Police Department about 4 p.m. Tuesday for an interview, said Peterson, who declined to share details about her conversation with investigators.

Documents show Jackson had been investigated for violent behavior before. She was accused, though acquitted, of stabbing a woman in 1999 in Michigan, according to court records. She was convicted in 2001 of stalking the same woman and received an 18-month probation sentence.

Peterson wasn’t certain of how long either Jackson or Whitlow have lived in the Fox Valley.

“We’re certainly going to want to talk to people who had contact with them in the recent past to try to learn what lead to this behavior on her part,” Peterson said.

Jackson is being held in jail without bond in the Outagamie County Jail.

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