Woman arrested in 1980 slaying of Ala. student

Published 2:56 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Evidence that surfaced five years ago led investigators to arrest a woman at a Mississippi homeless shelter in the slaying of an 18-year-old University of South Alabama student nearly three decades ago.

Jamie Kellam Letson, 47, was being held Saturday on $500,000 bond in the Mobile County Metro Jail on a murder charge. She was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday, accused of shooting her longtime friend Katherine Foster in the back of the head in February 1980 and leaving her body in the woods near the South Alabama campus in Mobile.

Foster, of Pascagoula, Miss., was found in a puddle of blood, her makeup done, her hair styled and her clothes clean and wrinkle-free, investigators said.

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As she was led Friday from inside police headquarters to a waiting car, Letson walked with her head up, ignoring reporters’ questions and silently slipping into the front seat.

Police say she had been questioned before in the slaying, and court records show she spent time in prison for theft, bank fraud and other convictions. She moved into the homeless shelter in Jackson, Miss., after she was released from prison in 2004, the Press-Register of Mobile reported.

Mobile police Deputy Chief James Barber said the women grew up together in Pascagoula and knew each other before moving to Mobile to attend college. Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran called the case “rock-solid,” but neither man would disclose the evidence that led to the arrest.

Foster’s family in a statement thanked police “for keeping her case active and not forgotten for over 28 years.”