Investigators immediately noticed the half-naked body in the icy Morrowind.
On the morning of January 13, 2018, in a quiet suburb of Calera, Alabama, first responders found Kathleen West, a widely known 42-year-old wife and mother, who had died from blunt trauma. , died on the street. She lay in a pool of blood with a split about two inches wide on the left side of her head. There was a pool of blood nearby.
“It looks like the body has been moved,” said Calera Police Sgt. Mike Melhoff, who arrived about half an hour later. Mehlhoff said he noticed another important clue next to Kat’s body: a nearly half-full wine bottle on Kat’s phone.
“It doesn’t look right…it ends that way…except for the show,” Mehlhoff told 48 Hours reporter Maureen Maher about Kat West’s mysterious death, which aired on Saturday, February 19. 9:8c airs on CBS and on Paramount+.
Alabama reporter and CBS consultant Carol Robinson agrees.
“The bottle was on the phone,” she said.
Robinson’s sense of style and flair for novelty has earned her a reputation as the “criminal Coco Chanel” of the tight-knit suburbs of Birmingham.
“A beautiful woman, naked on the street in a beautiful residential area. It doesn’t happen every day here. That’s what drives the story,” she said.
To tell the story of Kate West’s death, Robinson knew she had to start by looking at her own life.
In May 2018, 48 Hours also began an investigation.
We learned that Kate grew up in Florida and loves the outdoors and her dolls. One day, she aspired to be a mother – and as she matured, she also tried modeling.
Along the way, Kate’s friend Brittany told Drisler that she had developed a strange bond with Marilyn Monroe.
“She tried to recreate some of her pictures and hairstyles,” Brittany said.
“She… tried to emulate her in every way,” agrees Robinson, who learned that Kate’s resemblance to the troubled movie star was more than superficial.
“There’s always been a problem with self-esteem,” Robinson said.
From the moment she met her in Southern California, Kat and her husband Jeff West seemed like polar opposites, says Brittany Driesler.
“I thought the guy pulled the girl?” she remembered.
She said the West’s marriage was unconventional. Jeff — a former Army recruiter who served as a campus police officer — was nailed. Kate is flamboyant and impulsive – especially after drinking.
“She would … jump from the kitchen counter to the couch, shirtless, shirtless,” Brittany said. “My husband would say, ‘Oh my God!'”
Brittany told 48 Hours that Kate revealed that she regularly posted pornographic photos on pay-per-view sites, which boosted Kate’s self-esteem. According to Kate, when the West family moved to Alabama in 2014, Kate’s online activity skyrocketed. By 2018, Kat had joined a popular subscription site called OnlyFans, which allowed contributors to post adult photos and videos for paid subscribers. The site offers providers and subscribers the opportunity to communicate and arrange personalized content.
Those demands were not always respected, said New York paramedic Lauren Kwei, who started posting nude photos on OnlyFans under a pseudonym in 2019 to help her make ends meet.
“There are some really weird people on the internet,” Kwei said.
OnlyFans has seen a 75% increase in subscribers as the pandemic leaves millions of people stuck at home without work.
But long before COVID-19 led to a nationwide lockdown, Kat West had been posting pornographic images of herself online. Jeff lives a decent life. When Jeff revealed that he supports Kate’s online life, it surprised some. He even told police that he helped her take and post pornographic photos for her website. On his own Instagram page, Jeff West posted a photo of a wine bottle found next to Kate’s body the night she died.
Jeff told police they were out on a date and stopped to buy alcohol on the way home. He said he fell asleep after a while and woke him the next morning when his dog barked at a police patrol car outside.
But the police noticed something about Jeff West almost immediately. Sergeant Mike Melhoff said Jeff was strangely emotionless at the scene. While Jeff insists he doesn’t know how Kate died, he speculates that it may have been an accident. But authorities would learn she had hundreds of paying followers on OnlyFans and that she had personal requests in her inbox the night she died. Was one of her followers possessed and killed her?
“We’re concerned, you know, are there any other people out there who are actually killing people?” Mehlhoff confirmed.
Mehlhoff said he spent about three weeks trying to find any viable suspects from Kat’s online life. When crime scene forensics appear to be implicated in Jeff, authorities decide it’s time to act.
On February 22, 2018, Calera police arrested Jeff West on charges of murdering his wife. But what exactly is the evidence against him? For the next three years, Jeff West was behind bars, with little explanation from the authorities.
Have investigators done enough to rule out online stalkers as murderers? Brittany Drisler doesn’t think so.
“One of your subscribers…is he showing anger or jealousy or wanting something he can’t get or have?” she wondered.