By Carson Gerber
Tribune staff writer
DNA evidence led to the arrest of a Mississippi man Tuesday for the murder of Toni Spicer, a 27-year-old mother found beaten and strangled to death inside her Miami County trailer in 1992.
Indiana State Police arrested Timothy J. Jimerson, 52, D’Iberville, Miss., after a DNA match last year led detectives to the suspect in March. Jimerson is currently being held in a Biloxi, Miss., jail awaiting extradition to Peru to answer charges.
The arrest stems from incidents on Aug. 29, 1992, when a friend and Spicer’s two children, then 9 and 7 years old, found their mother dead at their home in Maple Lawn Village Trailer Court, just north of the Howard-Miami county line.
The probable cause affidavit states she had been beaten about the head, face and chest. An autopsy determined Spicer had been strangled.
Police have actively investigated the 20-year-old cold case, but leads over the years ultimately dead ended. Twice before, detectives submitted DNA samples for testing with no results.
But in June 2011, a DNA match consistent with Jimerson was found through the National DNA Database. Jimerson had served eight months in a Mississippi prison in 2010 for a felony DUI conviction, where police took samples of his DNA.
In March, detectives interviewed Jimerson at his home. According to the probable cause, Jimerson lived across the street from where Spicer was killed from 1990 until at least 1994.
The night of her death, Spicer was working at the Hip Hugger as a dancer. The affidavit states Jimerson was also at the bar that night, but police would not release details leading up to her death.
Detectives interviewed Jimerson again on Tuesday in Biloxi, where he stated he was responsible for the death of Spicer, according to the affidavit.
Miami County Prosecutor Bruce Embrey said the detailed and thorough crime-scene investigation in 1992 was a major factor in the DNA match being made.
He said a DNA match alone isn’t sufficient in most cases to identify a suspect as the perpetrator of a crime, but detectives spent the next few months after the DNA match investigating Jimerson and strategizing with prosecutors.
Embrey said he credits the arrest of Jimerson to the hard work of detectives, the officers involved in the original investigation and the cooperation of police in Biloxi.
“This was a big cold case, but it ain’t cold anymore,” he said.
The case was profiled by Crime Stoppers in 2001. In 2010, Indiana State Police and the Department of Corrections released a pack of cold-case playing cards featuring Spicer on one to jar inmates’ memories and perhaps lead to clues in the unsolved case.
Embrey said one of the most important results of Tuesday’s arrest was brining some kind of closure to the family, which has lived with the mystery of Spicer’s death for 20 years.