March 09, 2021
Whitney Murphy was discovered dead in her rural Idaho home on October 26, 2014. Her husband, Jimmy Lee Murphy, told police he found her body that evening after returning to the couple’s home in southeast Cassia County. Whitney had been in town that day before returning home. She had dropped her husband’s son off at his mother’s house and went to church.
The 26-year-old victim had been shot once in the head in what investigators originally believed to be a robbery, despite no items of value being taken from the couple’s Yale Road residence. A neighbour was also wounded when he was shot through the basement window of his home. It was his 911 call that alerted authorities to the scene.
They believed Whitney Murphy may have walked in on the robbery and was shot as a result, however, the only thing missing was a shotgun, one of several belonging to Jimmy Murphy, which police believed to be the murder weapon. The firearm was never recovered. Obvious valuables including a small safe containing $30,000 had not been taken.
When questioned regarding his whereabouts on the day Whitney was murdered, Jimmy, now 32-years-old, said he had been doing odd jobs outside the house, such as washing his truck and fulfilling a couple of requests from his boss. He claimed his boss had asked him to check the Center-pivot irrigation and to water the farm, however, when later questioned by police, Murphy’s boss said he hadn’t asked Murphy to do anything for him that day. It seemed Jimmy Murphy was struggling to account for his whereabouts at the time of his wife’s death and didn’t have an alibi.
To add to growing suspicions that he may have been somehow involved in his wife’s death, cartridge discharge residue was found on his hands. He explained away the incriminating residue by telling investigators that he had been hunting that day, shooting pigeons in the local area, he said. When the area was investigated for expended shells there was no evidence of anyone having hunted there that day and police also discovered that Murphy was not in possession of a hunting license. He would later change his story and say he hadn’t been hunting that day but neglected to provide an alternative explanation as to where he had been.
A further look into Jimmy Lee Murphy’s relationship with his wife revealed that things were less than perfect. Jimmy confessed that they had been arguing and that he had been cheating on her and text messages between them revealed things were not going well. He had been rejecting Whitney’s sexual advances towards him, so investigators found it peculiar that on the day she was shot dead in her home she received text messages from her husband telling her to come back to the residence ASAP as they were going to have sex. The theory that Whitney Murphy had been shot after walking in on her house being robbed suddenly shifted to the theory that her own husband had lured her back home to execute her when she walked through the door. A motive presented itself when it was discovered that Jimmy Murphy had taken out a $650,000 life insurance policy on his wife just a few weeks before she was killed. Reports state that Murphy’s claim was denied by the insurance company and that he would not pay for her funeral costs.
Around 2018 a relative of Whitney Murphy said they ran into Jimmy Murphy at a local store where they got into an argument. The relative accused Jimmy of murdering his own wife, to which he allegedly replied: “Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t”.
In 2021 the FBI interviewed the suspect about his involvement in the case. The Cassia County Sheriff’s Office had brought recently in the FBI for assistance with the case. They attempted to organize a follow-up interview but were unable to contact Murphy and soon discovered that he had left his job on February 26, 2021 and seemed to be preparing to leave Idaho. They began to surveil him and discovered that he been converting a van to make it liveable. When questioned by officers he told them he was planning to live in his van out on the road. Worried that Murphy was attempting to flee justice and unable to bring him in for further questioning, investigators decided to detain him.
Police arrested Jimmy Murphy last week at his mobile home in Minidoka County on March 3, 2021. The suspect attempted to run from officers before they disabled him with a stun-gun, charging him with one count of first-degree murder in connection with the murder of Whitney Murphy.
A preliminary hearing has been set for March 21, 2021. It is unclear currently if Jimmy Murphy has an attorney.
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