A married Clinton couple faces felony charges after police say they dumped a body after a fatal shooting.
Lewis Vaughn Sr., 44, and Jessica Vaughn, 35, are being held in Clinton County Jail. Lewis Vaughn, held on $1 million cash-only bond, faces a charge of first-degree murder. Jessica Vaughn, held on $5,000 cash-only bond, faces a charge of abuse of a corpse – hide or bury to hide a crime, court records say.
The incident in 2021
On Feb. 24, 2021, Clinton Police were dispatched to an apartment on the 800 block of Gateway Avenue for a welfare check after the property manager received a note that said a shooting had occurred and not to notify the police, arrest affidavits say.
The property manager knew who lived there. Officers tried to contact that person but had no response, and then obtained a search warrant, affidavits say.
In the apartment, affidavits say, officers found a “violent crime scene” with a 9mm shell casing. An investigation revealed that Khalil Pugh was with Lewis Vaughn Sr. on Feb. 23, 2021, prior to traveling to the apartment.
Investigators located Pugh’s vehicle outside the apartment on Feb. 24. His cell phone was inside the vehicle. Friends and family members had not heard from him since Feb. 23, 2021, and he had not reported to work since Feb. 23, 2021, affidavits say.
There has been no financial activity related to Pugh since Feb. 23, 2021, affidavits say.
During a neighborhood canvass of the area, neighbors reported three people were at the apartment, where they heard sounds of a fight and gunfire. After the disturbance and gun shots, neighbors reported seeing the truck of the maintenance man – Lewis Vaughn Sr. – backed into the apartment parking lot, affidavits say.
Phone records indicate that Lewis Vaughn Sr. left the area and traveled to the area of the 700 block of South 32nd Street, Clinton, where he knew some of the residents, affidavits say.
During an interview with the residents, it was discovered that Lewis Vaughn Sr. had reached out about having a dead animal that he needed to dispose of in a Dumpster. He arrived at the residence in his truck. Residents then reported seeing him leave and stop at the commercial Dumpster at the entrance of the property, according to affidavits.
The residents denied knowing what he placed in the Dumpster.
Investigators executed a search warrant on the truck. During a search of the vehicle, investigators located blood evidence in the truck bed. The blood evidence was confirmed to be human blood, and a DNA profile of the blood recovered from the truck matched a DNA profile recovered from the apartment, affidavits say.
Investigators made contact on the 700 block of South 32nd Street, Clinton, on Feb. 27, 2021, and were granted consent to search the Dumpster, which had been emptied Feb. 26, 2021, by the company hired for garbage-disposal, according to affidavits.
Investigators found blood evidence in the Dumpster that matched the DNA profile recovered from the apartment and the truck, affidavits say.
According to affidavits, investigators spoke with coworkers of Lewis Vaughn Sr. who said on Feb. 24, 2021, the day after the incident, Lewis Vaughn Sr. “spent some time cleaning blood out of the back of his truck.”
Affidavits say both suspects admitted they owned firearms. Jessica Vaughn said she did not know the whereabouts of one of the guns, and thought she had left it at a previous residence where she lived. She had not reported the gun missing or stolen. The gun she lost was a 9mm, affidavits say.
Investigators were able to establish a DNA profile of Khalil Pugh, which matched the DNA profile of the recovered blood evidence in the apartment, the truck and the Dumpster, according to affidavits.
During the course of the investigation, investigators learned that there was a physical altercation between Lewis Vaughn Sr. and Khalil Pugh. Lewis Vaughn Sr. shot Pugh twice, and killed him, affidavits say.
Investigators spoke with Jessica Vaughn, who admitted to leaving her residence and traveling to the 800 block of Gateway Avenue to look for her husband, Lewis Vaughn Sr.
According to affidavits, she said she saw her husband leave the apartment complex and followed him to the 700 block of South 32nd Street. She denied knowing what happened at either address.
Officers learned Lewis Vaughn Sr. had contacted Jessica Vaughn after he shot and killed Pugh, and that she helped remove the body from the apartment to Lewis Vaughn Sr.’s truck. She followed the truck in her car as they left the area of the apartment and arrived at the South 32nd Street address, affidavits say.
The case was reviewed and approved by County Attorney Mike Wolf, court records say.
Court records say Jessica Vaughn is set for arraignment on Sept. 15, and Lewis Vaughn Sr. is set for a preliminary hearing Sept. 9 in Clinton County Court.