COLUMBIA — Police now believe a drug deal gone wrong led to the slaying of a 26-year-old Columbia woman Thursday night.
Nicole Sue Crumby was pronounced dead after she was found lying in the parking lot of the Red Roof Inn at about 8:45 p.m. Crumby had head trauma that police said was likely the result of a gunshot wound, but police said they could not confirm the cause of death until an autopsy is completed.
Columbia police Detective Jeff Westbrook said Crumby was at the motel, located at 201 E. Texas Ave., to sell drugs to 18-year-old Blake N. Logan, a former neighbor on Millbrook Drive off Scott Boulevard. Logan has been arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and armed criminal action.
Witnesses told police they saw a white vehicle speeding away from the scene. Boone County Sheriff’s deputies located the vehicle just an hour later at the Midway Travel Plaza a few miles west of Columbia. Inside were Logan and Nicole Palmer, 19, also of Columbia. Palmer was detained but not charged in the case.
Westbrook said police believe the two were fleeing.
“I don’t know why else they’d be stopping for gas out there,” he said.
Crumby used to live in an apartment unit down the street from Logan. Crumby shared the apartment with a girlfriend who had two children, landlord Jennifer Sapp said, but Crumby was evicted this summer for failing to pay rent. Police said Crumby and Logan knew each other.
Police used footage from security cameras at the motel to identify the white vehicle that Logan was later arrested in. Westbrook said they believe Crumby was shot inside the vehicle.
Red Roof Inn employees said no one working at the time of the incident knew how to work the video system, so police had to call former Red Roof Inn employee Art Billington to help with the investigation. Billington said he watched the video footage but was not permitted to comment at the request of the police.
On Friday morning, Red Roof Inn employee Will Hergins described a hectic scene in the hours following Crumby’s death. He was not working Thursday night, but he stopped by the motel at halftime of the MU-Nebraska football game to see how things were going.
“Police cars were everywhere, and the whole back was blocked off,” Hergins said.
He said lots of guests returned from the football game that night to find that they weren’t allowed into their rooms. Police eventually started to let people in at about 1 a.m., and by 8 a.m. Friday morning there was no evidence of a crime scene.
Crumby’s former neighborhood was also quiet.
Logan’s porch light was on and the shades over the front windows were drawn. Two pairs of tennis shoes lay outside the front door in the rain, soaked. An orange kitten, now without its owner, wriggled in front of the blinds inside as drizzle rolled down the window.