COLUMBIA — Police said they think 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 cannot 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 charged with 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 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 charged Friday with hindering prosecution; distribution, delivery, manufacture or production of a controlled substance; and use or possession of drug paraphernalia. It is unclear if police believe Palmer was present at the scene of the slaying or what role — if any — they believe she played in the incident at the Red Roof Inn.
Police could not be reached for comment Saturday.
Logan and Palmer were in a relationship and living together, according to a MySpace profile purporting to be Logan's. Both were being held in the Boone County Jail as of Saturday afternoon, Logan on a $1 million bond and Palmer on a $25,000 bond.
Westbrook said police think the two were fleeing when they were apprehended at the rest stop.
“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 think 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, referring to the rear parking lot of the hotel where Crumby's body was found.
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.