Nona Dirksmeyer: The murder of a beauty queen remains unsolved

Nona Dirksmeyer’s photo
Nona Dirksmeyer was murdered in 2005 inside her apartment in Russellville, Arkansas. Pic credit: family photo

Nona Dirksmeyer was a 19-year-old college student in Russellville, Arkansas, as well as a Miss Arkansas contestant, who was murdered inside her off-campus apartment.

Despite several arrests, no one has been convicted of her murder.

In 2004, Dirksmeyer graduated from Dover High School in Dover. She then enrolled at Arkansas Tech University, where she studied music education.

Her boyfriend of nearly five years, Kevin Jones, was also a student at the university. But during the summer of 2005, he transferred to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

“I didn’t like the fact that I had to be away from her,” Kevin said. “I really looked forward to going back home on the weekends.”

On Dec. 14, 2005, of the same year, Jones was home from school when he told investigators that he decided to hang out with Dirksmeyer at her apartment, located at the Inglewood Manor Apartments, between 10 and 10:30 p.m.

Several hours later, he drove to his parents’ house in Dover, where he stayed up until 3 a.m., talking to his mother about his classes, his girlfriend, and the things he needed to do when he woke up later that day.

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Before they went to bed, Jones and his mother reportedly cleaned the bathroom.

Nona Dirksmeyer’s boyfriend, kevin Jones, could not reach her

At 9 a.m. on December 15, Jones received a text message from Dirksmeyer that said, “Have a great day. I love you cuddle bug.” 

He didn’t respond until an hour later.

About thirty minutes later, Jones received a call from his grandmother, who stated that the plumber was on his way to the house.

The plumber arrived at 9:45 a.m. and didn’t leave until 35 minutes later. That’s when Jones went back to sleep.

Around 10:30 a.m., Jones woke up and cleaned his room before going to the gas station that his family-owned. 

And it was there that he spoke with his grandmother for 20 to 30 minutes before heading to the Bayou Bridge Cafe, where his friend worked.

In the afternoon, Jones called Dirksmeyer out of concern because she was supposed to call him after she had finished taking her final exam.

She didn’t answer.

He called seven more times and sent a text message, but he didn’t hear back from her.

Nona Dirksmeyer was found dead inside her apartment

Jones then called a friend in Russellville and asked if he could check on his girlfriend. His friend said he went to Dirksmeyer’s apartment and noticed her car was still parked outside.

He knocked on the door, but there was no answer.

At that time, Jones, his mother, and a friend were going to a Christmas party, but instead, they decided to stop by Dirksmeyer’s apartment to see if she was okay.

When Jones, who was 21 years old at the time, and his friend looked inside the apartment through a sliding glass door, they saw Dirksmeyer laying naked on the living room floor.

She was also covered in blood.

He went inside and tried to pick her up to take her to the hospital, but the detectives stated that would be “futile,” as she had already been dead for hours.

Even so, Jones got on top of Dirksmeyer and tried to resuscitate her.

When Dirksmeyer’s mother arrived, she said, “He [Jones] met me close to the elevators. And I was just tingling all over. And I said, ‘She’s dead, isn’t she?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’”

An autopsy revealed that the right side of Dirksmeyer’s throat had been slit. She was also punched, strangled, and beaten to death with the metal part of a floor lamp.

The medical examiner stated that there was a “palm-heel slap” above her eye and cheek, and they also concluded that Dirksmeyer was not sexually assaulted.

Nona Dirksmeyer’s boyfriend was suspected of the killing

Defense attorney Bill James stated that he believed Jones was the killer, as he “made a calculated move to ensure there were witnesses—his mother and friend—when he discovered her body.”

When James arrived at the scene, he noticed that there were no signs of forced entry. He also noticed that when he questioned Jones, he didn’t show any emotion.

In the 911 call, Jones was calm when he told the operator how to get to Dirksmeyer’s apartment, and before he hung up, he said, “Thank you,” but when paramedics arrived, they said he was hysterical.

James Bacon, the Russellville police chief, stated that when he arrived at the crime scene, he saw “a large pool of blood around the head, several abrasions to the neck and the shoulder.”

“When I got to the apartment, he [Jones] was standing just inside the door. And he stuck his hand out like he wanted to shake hands. And then said, ‘Oh, I can’t.’ Then did his hands like this to show me they were covered in blood.”

Detectives suspected Jones was the killer because there were inconsistencies in his story, and some of the information that he had given had changed over time.

Prosecutors stated that they believe Jones went into a rage after he went to Dirksmeyer’s apartment and found a condom wrapper on the kitchen counter.

During the trial, he said he and Dirksmeyer didn’t use condoms because she was on birth control.

Jones also admitted to cheating on Dirksmeyer a week before she was killed. He said, “It was something I shouldn’t have done. I regret it,” but he added that he had no knowledge that she was also cheating.

He said he found out after she was killed.

Dirksmeyer had been romantically involved with at least two men, who testified during the trial, while in a relationship with Jones, prosecutors said.

Kevin Jones was tried and acquitted of Nona Dirksmeyer’s murder

Police officials stated that Jones was ultimately arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

During the trial, prosecutors stated that there wasn’t enough time for Jones to travel to Russellville from Dover to kill his girlfriend, then return to Dover to have lunch with his friend.

There was a receipt that proved Jones bought lunch on the day Dirksmeyer was killed.

Prosecutor Jack McQuary stated that “her life ended that morning, close to noon or 1 o’clock.”

Investigators stated they were unable to find any physical evidence linking Jones to the murder because they believe he “purposely contaminated the crime scene.”

In July 2007, the jury deliberated for eight hours before finding Jones not guilty of first-degree murder.

Prosecutors stated that the acquittal came after a “botched police investigation.”

Gary Dunn was tried twice for Nona Dirksmeyer’s murder

The jury and prosecution team turned their focus on Gary Dunn of Dover, a man who lived in the same apartment complex as Dirksmeyer, in the building across from hers.

This came after prosecutors announced on Feb. 6, 2008, that the DNA on the condom wrapper matched Dunn’s.

One expert testified that a partial profile matching Dunn’s was found on the wrapper and that it was combined with Dirksmeyer’s DNA.

Another expert “disputed the probability of the match.”

Gary Dunn’s mugshot
Gary Dunn was tried twice but never convicted of murdering Nona Dirksmeyer. Pic credit: Arkansas Department of Corrections

Prosecutors then used the DNA evidence to link Dunn to the murder, which the judge allowed, and he was arrested and charged with capital murder.

He was held at the county jail on a cash-only bond set at $1 million.

They are unsure how Dunn would have entered the apartment, as Dirksmeyer’s friends said she always kept it locked.

Prosecutor H.G. Foster suggested that Dunn may have knocked on Dirksmeyer’s door and announced himself as her neighbor who was concerned about her cat.

At the scene, they found a bag of cat food on the floor that had been unopened.

In 2009, the trial began at the Johnson County Courthouse in Clarksville.

When the jury could not reach a verdict after eight hours of deliberation, Circuit Judge Bill Pearson stated that he was “going to declare this jury deadlocked and conclude this trial.”

Dunn was tried again, but it ended in a hung jury, and prosecutors decided not to try him a third time.

No convictions in Nona Dirksmeyer’s murder case

Police officials stated that Dunn was released from jail, but in 2019, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison in an unrelated case.

He attempted to force a woman into his car in the parking lot of a Russellville church.

As of 2023, no one has been convicted of Nona Dirksmeyer’s murder, and her case remains unsolved.

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Barb Cooley
Barb Cooley
7 months ago

“lying in the floor”—not “laying on the floor”

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