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Press: UM Student Tied to Instructor's Murder

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Oxford Flyer Weekly

By Carl Crawford
Contributing Correspondent

Eyewitnesses, forensic evidence link popular student to teacher's death

A well-known Ole Miss student body leader has been arrested in the strangulation murder of University of Mississippi Instructor Kristi Waterson. The Yoknapatawpha County District Attorney's office has filed murder charges against Nathaniel "Hunter" Nelson, President of Delta Tau Chi Fraternity.

Ms. Waterson was found murdered in her apartment on May 23, 2004. It initially appeared that Waterson was a suicide victim, but examination by the Yoknapatawpha County Coroner's Officer resulted in a ruling of homicide. She was the daughter of Michael and Virginia Waterson of Biloxi. Through the family attorney, the Waterson family offered a $75,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of their daughter's killer. No one has yet stepped forward to claim the money.

Sources following the investigation revealed that witnesses have placed Nelson near Ms. Waterson's apartment on the night of her murder, and that trace evidence linking the victim to the suspect was located during a search of Nelson's residence and car. Reportedly, there was a lack of evidence at the scene, causing speculation that either that Ms. Waterson was killed somewhere else and her body brought to her apartment, or that the killer somehow took precautions to avoid leaving evidence or cleaned up and removed evidence after the crime, perhaps with an accomplice.

While the Sheriff's Department offered no comment on the case against Mr. Nelson, sources close to the investigation say evidence suggests Nelson and the victim were once romantically involved, even though such relationships are strongly discouraged by the University.

"Hunter did what he wanted," said a UM senior who asked to remain anonymous. "Everybody knows that students aren't supposed to date the faculty," the student went on, "but Hunter never met a rule he didn't like to break, or couldn't throw enough money at avoid the consequences. The rich are like that -- they get away with everything."

And, according to several undergraduates, Nelson may not have been the only student Waterson dated. "She wasn't shy about being seen with whoever she liked," said one coed who asked to be identified only as Wendy. "If that guy was a student, if it was against the rules, too bad -- for the rules, not for her."

Nelson's parents, Beauregard and Lindsay Nelson of Natchez, continue to support their son and proclaim his innocence. Through their attorney, the family has stated, "It's an outrage. This is so much conjecture on the part of the police that it's an insult to the family name."

"What's an outrage is what the rich kids here at UM do and think they can get away with," said one UM student who wished only to be known as Will. He went on to say, "Even if Hunter didn't do it, I bet there are a lot of students that have to scrape for every dime who would be glad to see someone like him fry for it."

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