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The Murder of Camgirl Kitty Kat West

by Kassondra O'Hara 6 months ago in investigation

Did Her Online Activities Play a Role in Her Death?

Kathleen “Kitty Kat” West

Kathleen West was a 42-year-old stay-at-home mom living in Calera, AL with her husband Jeff and their 12-year-old daughter. Kathleen was known for her beauty and carefree personality. It was said that she closely favored Marilyn Monroe. She consistently posted modest photos of her and her family living their suburban life to her Facebook account. Jeff worked as a Birmingham-Southern College campus security officer and was a U.S. Army veteran. To the outside world, they appeared to be a normal, happy family. Kathleen however had a secret life.

Kathleen’s Alter Ego

The image we typically have of a stay-at-home mom is one of exhaustion, boredom, and monotony. Kathleen’s life, however, was anything but. Maybe it was the boredom that took over, or maybe her desperate search for attention, but Kathleen used her freedom for hobbies on the other side of the spectrum. Online, Kathleen became known as “Kitty Kat”.

Kitty Kat had her own website in which she would share racy photos of herself and then charge the viewers to view the full monty. She enjoyed others lusting over photos of her wearing lingerie, costumes, and nothing at all. She was a self-described exhibitionist. She then used her social media presence on Twitter and Instagram (she had over 52,000 followers on Instagram) to advertise her adult, subscription-only website and encourage more paying customers. What’s more is that her husband, Jeff was completely aware of her activities and even assisted her in her efforts.

Kitty Kat West Instagram photos

Lives Are Turned Upside Down

Things appeared to be going well for the Wests, until the morning of January 13, 2018, when Kathleen was found dead, lying face down across the street from her home. Her body was discovered at 5 a.m. by a 19-year-old neighbor on her way to work. When she was found, she was only wearing a sports bra. Beside her lay her cell phone and a green half-empty absinthe bottle.

Location where Kathleen’s body was discovered

It was initially assumed that Kathleen had gotten drunk and fell, hitting her head and causing her death. It was said that she often went outside and danced or jumped on the family’s trampoline after a few drinks. After investigators gathered statements, reviewed evidence, and the autopsy was completed, authorities began to suspect foul play was involved.

The Events Leading Up to the Murder

The night before Kathleen died, she and Jeff went on a “date night”. The couple had dinner at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, drinks at the Red Zone Bar and Grill, and then stopped by R&R Wine & Liquor. There, they purchased a bottle of Lucid Absinthe and a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey. Surveillance videos show Kathleen laughing and Jeff patting her rear end.

Kathleen West in the R&R Wine & Liquor surveillance footage

After returning home, the couple had about six drinks and then Jeff took pictures of Kathleen in a pink bra, multi-colored underwear, and pink stiletto heels. The photos were presumably for her Instagram account or adult website. It is believed that this may have been what lead up to the couple’s argument.

The Evidence

When police arrived at the scene, they noticed that the green bottle was placed directly on top of Kathleen’s cell phone, which appeared strange, almost staged. Forensic pathologist, Dr. Stephen Boudreau completed the autopsy and ruled that her death was caused by blunt force trauma to the head.

He further explained that due to Kathleen’s petite height, it was unlikely that the head wound would have been created by a fall and that the length of the wound was consistent with the liquor bottle found at the scene. He also stated that her blood alcohol content was .23, nearly three times the legal limit.

Jeff and Kathleen West

Steve Johnson, Pelham Police Department Evidence Unit Supervisor, processed the liquor bottle that was collected and it was discovered that the fingerprints pulled from the glass matched Jeff’s. He also found dried blood on the bottom of the bottle, as well as a small chip in the glass.

Jeff West stated that he awoke the next morning due to all of the police cars on his street and his dog barking. It is believed that this a lie, as the neighbor who found Kathleen’s body testified that while she was reporting the discovery to the 911 dispatcher, she witnessed Jeff pacing back and forth while he was inside his home.

Unusually, evidence was gathered from both Jeff and Kathleen’s Health app that logged their daily movements. Kat’s phone detailed that the final movement was Jan. 12 from 10:45–10:54 p.m. for a distance of 0.04 miles. It did not detail movement again until the next morning when police obtained it for evidence. Jeff’s phone detailed the next-to-last movement as Jan. 12 at 10:17 p.m. for 10 steps, and the final movement from 11:03–11:10 p.m. for a total of 18 steps. Jeff stated that he went to bed at 10:30 p.m. The next movement detailed on Jeff’s phone was the next day, Jan. 13, from 5:12–5:22 a.m. for a total of 59 steps.

It was also said that after being told that his wife was dead, Jeff appeared very calm. There is even body cam footage of his reaction after an officer on scene told him the news. Based on their previous experiences, authorities stated that this is not how a person typically acts after learning that their spouse is dead. The footage has not been released to the public but was entered into evidence at the trial.

Jeff and Kathleen West

Text messages between Jeff and Kat in the several weeks prior to the murder were also admitted into evidence to show just how unstable their relationship was. Eight days before her death, Kathleen sent the following message to her husband:

“I know you’re scared to tell me you don’t want to be with me, but it’s only hurting me more by lying,” and “if you don’t want me say it.”

Jeff’s response: “Baby, I want you. Do you want me? We really never talked after NYE.”

Kathleen then warned Jeff that he was “throwing away 14 years of marriage.”

However, mixed in with their troubling messages, were nude photos that Kathleen frequently sent to her husband, along with responses from him, such as “looking good hot momma”.

Jeff’s Defense

On Thursday, February 22, 2018, Jeff West was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife. His bond was set at $500,000 and he pled not guilty.

Jeff West's Mugshot

Jeff insisted from the beginning that he would never hurt his wife. He stated that he and his wife began arguing when they arrived home from their date night. Jeff was unhappy about the amount of time that Kat was spending on her phone and proceeded to throw her phone outside. He stated that she must have gone outside to fetch it, fell, and died. Prosecutors believe this is when he grabbed the liquor bottle off of the table, followed her, and as she bent down to pick up her phone, he struck her. He insists that he went on to bed.

Jeff stated that when he awoke to the sounds of authorities outside, he realized that Kat was not in bed and he began to walk around the house to look for her. He insists that this is what the witness saw when she testified to seeing him “pacing”.

Jeff’s attorney, John Robbins maintained throughout the trial that all of the evidence presented was circumstantial and that his client was innocent, as no murder had been committed. He also defended the claim that Jeff did not “act as someone would when they were told that their spouse was dead”, by pointing out that Jeff is a trained soldier. Soldiers are trained to keep their emotions in check and people deal with stressful situations in different ways.

When the topic of his wife’s lifestyle came up as a motive, Jeff stated that he was not jealous.

“It’s just pictures. She got money for it.”

The Trial

Among those to testify during the trial were officers who responded to the original scene, including former Calera Police Officer and current Shelby County Sheriff Deputy Luigi Ragazonni. He testified that he arrived on the scene and began documenting details. It was then that Jeff approached Ragazonni and asked him what happened. Ragazonni replied that they received a report of a dead person and she had been identified as Kathleen West. Jeff responded that she was his wife. The two then went to Jeff’s home where they continued to speak at length on various topics.

Kitty Kat West

Several evidence technicians responded to the scene and testified to the validity of the evidence they recovered. The forensic pathologist, Dr. Boudreau also gave descriptions of his findings during the autopsy.

A video interview between Jeff and detectives that occurred on January 13 was shown to the jury in its entirety. Jeff described the events on the night prior to Kathleen’s death, the state of their marriage, Kathleen’s habits, and was asked if there had been a history of violence between the two. Jeff stated that he had never hit nor hurt his wife and he didn’t know what had happened to Kat until he was told by police.

ADT security records were admitted as evidence, showing the times that the couple’s front door was opened and closed throughout the night. Detective Mike Mehlhoff was also called to the stand to testify to the authenticity of the screenshots from the Health app on the couple’s phones that provided an account of their movements throughout the night and the morning after Kat’s death.

Kathleen’s mother, Nancy Martin, described her daughter as an alcoholic who took medication for bipolar disorder. She also stated,

“She could not just drink one drink… she’d say, I need another one.”

The Verdict

At one point during the deliberation, jurors asked the time of death, which wasn’t given in the week-long trial. Jurors also wanted help finding data from cell phone Health App to show Kat and Jeff West’s steps that night and to again view body cam video of the first police officer to encounter Jeff West that morning.

The decision among the jurors was unanimous. Jeff West was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of his wife, Kathleen. He showed no emotion when the verdict was read. His bond was revoked and he would remain incarcerated until his sentencing.

During his sentencing hearing, it was apparent that both of the couple’s parents did not believe in Jeff’s guilt and supported him. Nancy Martin, Kat’s mother even stated

“He’s a good man and he didn’t do this.”

Later, she spoke more about her belief in his innocence.

“I absolutely believe this with all my heart because I know what we went through after she passed away. He lived with me. We went to the funeral home together. We saw her body together. I saw him. You can’t fake what he went through when we were at the funeral home, crying and saying this can’t be real.”

Jeff West at his sentencing hearing

After all deliberations, Shelby County Judge William Bostick III handed down what he thought was a fair, but not maximum sentence. He ordered Jeff West to serve 16 years for the reckless manslaughter of his wife. He took into account Jeff’s lack of criminal history, pleas from Jeff’s daughter, mother, and mother-in-law, and other mitigating factors in the case when making his decision.

Sources:

https://www.al.com/news/2020/11/kat-west-murder-trial-couple-had-an-enjoyable-date-the-night-she-died-attorney-argues.html

https://www.the-sun.com/news/1836612/husband-killed-camgirl-wife-unhappy-not-sexual/

https://www.al.com/news/2020/11/kat-wests-mother-testifies-in-jeff-wests-defense-at-murder-trial.html

https://www.wbrc.com/2020/11/17/ kat-west-murder-trial-underway/

https://www.cbs42.com/news/crime/fall-not-likely-cause-of-kat-wests-death-pathologist-testifies/

***Note: This story was originally published to author's Medium account.***

investigation

Kassondra O'Hara

Working mom who uses her curiosity to fuel the curiosities of others ~ Writes mostly history and true crime

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Kassondra O'Hara
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