The Trinity man who last week confessed to killing a man 25 years ago has a terminal illness, authorities said, and Morgan County will be responsible for his medical costs while he remains in the county jail.
Johnny Dwight Whited, 53, called Decatur police on Wednesday and told them he was responsible for the shooting death of Christopher Alvin Dailey, 26, of Huntsville. Records show Dailey died of a single gunshot wound to the head. His body was found in the Lake Chula Vista area April 26, 1995.
Decatur Police Detective Sean Mukaddam on Friday said Whited has a “terminal illness,” but would not elaborate on his diagnosis.
Mike Swafford, spokesman with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, said Whited was booked into the county jail on Wednesday and is in quarantine for seven days. He said Whited will be released from quarantine this Wednesday and placed in the general jail population.
“Whited is quarantined like all new inmates when they come in,” Swafford said. “Currently, no accommodations are needed for medical reasons for Whited. The medical staff is aware of any conditions he has.
"Any required treatments would fall on the county to cover the costs while he is our responsibility.”
Whited is being held on $15,000 bail on a murder charge.
Howard McGriff Belser III of Decatur has been appointed Whited’s defense attorney in the murder case.
In an affidavit of substantial hardship filed Thursday, Whited listed no income and no assets.
Belser, who was set to meet with his client at the jail late Friday afternoon, said he also is representing Whited on a drug case that has been set for trial May 3.
Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson said an investigation of the confession is in the early stages, and Whited will have a preliminary hearing within 30 days.
Mukaddam said when Whited called him Wednesday to confess, that Whited was unsure of the date or the year of the shooting.
The detective said police initially struggled to determine what case Whited was talking about.
Mukaddam said police went to Whited’s home in Trinity and arrested him, and Whited then led detectives to an area off Chapel Hill Road in Southwest Decatur and reenacted the slaying. Whited was 28 at the time of the killing.
Whited appeared remorseful, Mukaddam said, and was eager to confess.
Records show Dailey's 1983 tan Toyota Tercel was found partially submerged in the Tennessee River near Independence Avenue on April 26, 1995, the same day two teenagers found Dailey's body about 4 miles away.
Decatur police said the case was revisited several times during the past couple of decades in a search for leads, with no success.
Mukaddam said he doesn’t believe Whited and Dailey knew each other and added he could not comment on some facts of the case.
Mukaddam said he contacted Dailey’s relatives about the confession.
“They are grateful to get closure in the case,” he said. “The family has asked for privacy in the matter.”