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Decatur police detective discusses dying man's murder confession in cold case

Johnny Whited called Decatur police on Wednesday and said he wanted to get something off his chest.

Posted: Nov 20, 2020 4:59 PM
Updated: Nov 20, 2020 6:52 PM

It's not every day that law enforcement is able to potentially solve a crime that's more than two decades old. And it's even rarer when that ending comes in the form of a dying man's confession.

That's exactly what happened when Johnny Dwight Whited called Decatur police on Wednesday and told them he killed a man in 1995. Whited was then arrested and charged with murder.

Detective Sean Mukkadam said he was at his desk at the Decatur Police Department when dispatch called and said they had a guy on the line who said he killed someone and wanted to get it off his chest.

"It's not a call you normally get," said Mukkadam.

Mukkadam said Johnny Whited didn't know the victim, Christopher Dailey. It seemed to be an almost random killing. Mukkadam said Daily and Whited met only moments before the killing. Police pressed Whited for details.

"I asked him very specific things so we could narrow it down to research what case it was," said Mukkadam.

In April of 1995, two leaf hunters were in a wooded area off of George Russell Road and that's when they discovered Christopher Dailey's body. A few days later, Decatur police said they found his partially submerged car in the Tennessee River.

"They did surveillance on people. They did everything they possibly could to solve this case and it just got to a point where there were no more leads and no more avenues to go," said Mukkadam.

Mukkadam said this case was a real 'who done it' until Whited confessed he is the one who shot Dailey.

"He's terminally ill and my opinion is he's going to meet his maker soon. He was ready to confess and close all the doors and give the victim's family some closure," said Mukkadam.

Closure and answers Mukkadam got to deliver to Dailey's sister.

"I told her every bit of details about the investigation and I could see how grateful she was after 25 years," said Mukkadam.

Mukkadam was also quick to point out that Whited had plenty of time to come forward before now.

Police said Whited told them why he killed Dailey, but they're not disclosing the motive yet. Whited will have a preliminary hearing within 30 days. The hearing hasn't been set yet. He is being held in the Morgan County Jail on a $15,000 bond.

While in jail and if he is found guilty and goes to prison, it will be taxpayers who will pay for Whited's medical expenses.

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