Bigoms Could Remember Little About Night Dana Wilkes Disappeared; Expert Says Her Head, Arms Were Cut Off Using A Hand Saw

Thursday, April 10, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

In a recorded police interview played for the jury in the trial of Tony Bigoms, Bigoms repeatedly answered questions with "I don't remember" and "I'm not sure." The interrogation, conducted by Officer Reginald Parks, took place shortly after Dana Wilkes was declared missing.

When asked what he did the Saturday after the last night Ms. Wilkes was seen alive, Bigoms replied, "I probably went somewhere but I'm not sure where I went."

Charged with the murder of Ms.

Wilkes, the defendant said in the recorded interview he did not remember if he stopped anywhere after he said Ms. Wilkes dropped him off.

 When asked about where they drove together, he said he did not know roads because he was not "too good with directions."

 In the recording, Bigoms laughed often while he talked to police.

 After saying that Ms. Wilkes sold pills, Officer Parks asked, "When Dana talks about selling pills, what does she mean?"

 Bigoms replied, "Tom does most of that. People bring her pills to sell, she sells them...It just depends on the type of pill you get and how it affects you and everything." Tom Wilkes, Ms. Wilkes' husband at the time, died shortly after his wife's body was found.

 Bigoms told police he was also a friend of Tom Wilkes at the time. He said people often came to their home to buy pills from Mr. Wilkes and that it upset Ms. Wilkes.

 According to Bigoms' statement to police at the time, he said did not see Ms. Wilkes again after she dropped him off and that he went to his aunt's house. He said he stayed there a few hours and did not get back out after that.

 However, after police investigated cell phone records, they were able to use cell towers to determine where the defendant was when he called Ms. Wilkes at 2:30 a.m. Contrary to his statement that he was at home, police said he was in the area near the Wilcox Tunnel, where Ms. Wilkes' car was later found.

 Attorney Steve Brown pointed out that while the defendant was the last person to call Ms. Wilkes, he was not the last person she called. According to phone records, Ms. Wilkes called another man twice at different times. While this man's car was searched, no DNA swabs were taken.

 Bigoms said he did not know the exact times that he went anywhere that night, saying he could have driven through the tunnel. Surveillance tapes from Walmart and a gas station where he and Ms. Wilkes stopped showed he was wrong on other time estimates by several hours.

 He also eventually told police in a second interrogation that he had been out trying to pick up women even though he had a girlfriend. Attorney Brown said the girlfriend kicked him out of her home when she discovered this, but her story did not change. She still stated Bigoms was with her at the end of the night.

 He told police he found out Ms. Wilkes was missing from a friend named Patrick, but he did not attempt to search for her. Attorney Brown noted that this man was a witness in another murder case but had also not been investigated.

 Dr. Murray Marks, a forensic specialist who examined the body, said from his examination, he determined the head and arms had been sawed off with a hand saw while the body was lying face down.

 Dr. Marks said there was no way to conclusively say if this occurred before or after death.

 Attorney Brown noted there was a possibility the body had been moved from its original location. It was discovered far off of Youngstown Road, but he said there were signs it started out closer to the road.

 Attorney Brown also said for someone to get to the location of the body, they would have to hike through tall grass and foliage. However, no dirt or vegetation from the area was found in any of the vehicles or on any item possessed by Bigoms. 

 He said, in fact, in Bigoms' car, there was "absolutely no evidence of blood." Bigoms also voluntarily submitted to a DNA swab.

 During Officer Parks' testimony on Wednesday afternoon, several pictures of Bigoms' hands were entered into evidence. The photos were taken shortly after Ms. Wilkes' disappearance and they showed several cuts and abrasions on the defendant's hands.

 However, Attorney Brown pointed out that the defendant was a landscaping student at Chattanooga State. He noted that Bigoms' palms were also calloused.

The girlfriend of Bigoms, Mary Morris, also had trouble remembering much about the time of the death of Ms. Wilkes.

Prosecutor Lance Pope tried to refresh her memory by reading excerpts of an interview she had with detective Justin Kilgore. She said Bigoms was with Ms. Wilkes on the night she disappeared, saying he was going to meet her to fix her car. She said Bigoms came back home later that night. She said she uses a sleeping device and it was possible that he slipped out later.

She was asked about telling the detective about Bigoms washing a pair of gray tennis shoes in Chlorox in a bucket in the bathtub. She said she objected because the fumes bothered her lungs.

 The witness said she saw on the news that Ms. Wilkes was missing. She said she started crying because "I liked her."

She said Bigoms told her "she would be alright." She said she asked Bigoms about being with her and he said he "just took her to Walmart." She said afterward Bigoms got angry and did not want to talk about it any more. She said, "He had a little bit of a temper."

 


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