Metro Nashville Police Department’s SWAT team on Friday arrested Devaunte L. Hill in the December 3 murder of Nashville nurse Caitlyn Kaufman as she drove to work on Interstate 440, officers said.
Hill, 21, was taken into custody at his apartment in the Berkshire Place complex on Porter Road in East Nashville, MNPD said.
MNPD on Friday morning tweeted, “BREAKING: Devaunte L. Hill, 21, is in custody for the murder of Nashville nurse Caitlyn Kaufman. MNPD SWAT members arrested him at 6:15 a.m. at his East Nashville apartment. He is being charged with criminal homicide.”
BREAKING: Devaunte L. Hill, 21, is in custody for the murder of Nashville nurse Caitlyn Kaufman. MNPD SWAT members arrested him at 6:15 a.m. at his East Nashville apartment. He is being charged with criminal homicide. pic.twitter.com/lJ6LMHy8v7
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) December 11, 2020
Kaufman was a nurse at Saint Thomas West Hospital, WSMV reported. She was shot and killed on December 3 between 6:05 and 6:10 p.m. on I-440 while she was on her way to work. A Metro Parks Police officer saw her car on the right shoulder and thought the car may have been involved in a wreck; the driver was slumped over.
Hill was brought to MNPD headquarters where he was interviewed by Homicide Unit Detectives Chris Dickerson and Jefferson Hughes. Hill allegedly implicated himself in the case, police said.
The suspect and victim did not know each other, police said. Additional arrests are possible.
Video of the press conference announcing the arrest is available here.
“Detectives from our Homicide Unit have worked around the clock pursuing the more than 50 Crime Stoppers tips and other leads in this case,” Chief John Drake said. “They were joined by scientists at our Crime Laboratory, MNPD electronics experts, and our partners at the FBI, ATF and TBI. On behalf of Nashville, I am grateful to all of these men and women.”
The major break in the case came within an hour of the announcement that an anonymous group of Nashville business owners and entrepreneurs increased the reward for information by $50,000, MNPD said. A concerned citizen came forward Thursday afternoon and identified Hill as a suspect.
The reward grew up to $66,000, NewsChannel 5 reported.
The concerned citizen also provided information as to the whereabouts of the 9 mm pistol that was allegedly used in the murder. Detectives located the gun Thursday night, MNPD said.
Crime lab scientists were called in during the night to do an immediate analysis of the pistol, police said. The gun was test fired at the lab, and scientists reported a 100 percent match to the three 9 mm shell casings that were recovered on the shoulder of I-440 the night Kaufman was killed.
In addition, MNPD electronics experts were able to identify Hill’s cell phone number and provider, police said. They determined that Hill’s phone was allegedly in the vicinity on the night Kaufman was killed.
Dickerson, the lead detective, said, “While it was a relief to be able to sign the arrest warrant naming Hill at 3:37 this morning, it was an exceptional relief to be able to call Caitlyn’s mother, Diane, in Pennsylvania this morning to tell her that an arrest had been made. Throughout this investigation, we have felt the support of all of Nashville, and the strong support of the Kaufman family.”
Diane Kaufman returned from Nashville to her home in Pennsylvania Thursday to prepare for her daughter’s funeral today.
Hill has been booked into the Downtown Detention Center on a charge of criminal homicide, police said. He is being held without bond pending a hearing.
When asked about Diane Kaufman’s reaction, Dickerson said, “Obviously there’s a lot of tears, just joy. She said she was able to get some closure before the funeral. And she expressed her gratitude to everybody that helped out, the entire department.”
– – –
Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.