Caitlyn Kaufman is a Nashville, Tennessee, area nurse who died after being shot on Interstate 440 while driving to work.
Police have now announced the arrest of a 21 year old man, Devaunte Hill, in Kaufman’s death. They said a concerned citizen came forward after reward money was offered.
Authorities were exploring whether the case of two Colorado men accused of randomly shooting at Florida motorists could be linked to Kaufman’s December 3 death, but they ruled that out, announcing the arrest of Hill.
The nurse was remembered by her grieving mother as “selfless. She was full of life. She lit up a room as soon as she walked into it. She had a contagious laugh, beautiful blue eyes, a heart of gold. Caitlyn was a very loyal person. When you had the opportunity to walk into her small circle, she was loyal to her forever, you were her chosen family. She is sorely missed. I miss talking to her every day.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kaufman’s Vehicle Was Shot at Least Six Times on the Interstate
Police said in a news conference that Kaufman was traveling to her job in the ICU of a local hospital when she was fatally shot on the interstate. Her car was shot at least six times. Kaufman was shot on Thursday night, December 3, between 6:05 p.m. and 6:10 p.m., Nashville police said in the press conference.
Chief John Drake of the Metro Nashville Police Department said in the news conference that he “like all of Nashville” was “completely shocked by the death of Caitlyn Kaufman.”
He said she was on her way to work at Saint Thomas West Hospital in Nashville. “It happened on the interstate system as she was on her way to work,” said Drake, adding that authorities had received 46 CrimeStopper tips.
Detective Chris Dickerson of the homicide unit for Nashville police said the murder was “unusual, especially when it comes to Nashville.”
He said they were working relentlessly. “Shots were fired from the interstate. We can’t say whether she was targeted or not. The vehicle was struck at least six times,” Dickerson said.
2. Authorities Have Pinned Down a Specific Time Frame for the Murder
According to Dickerson, Kaufman’s shift at the hospital was supposed to begin at 7 p.m. “She left her apartment in Lebanon and traveled on the interstate system from Wilson county to Nashville,” he said in the news conference.
“She was fatally shot from 6:05 p.m. to 6:10 p.m. We are sure of that. She was killed by a gunshot that entered her left shoulder area,” Dickerson said. “It would have been fatal within 15 seconds. She didn’t have time to get to her cell phone to call 911.”
He stressed, “We have not established a motive for Caitlyn’s murder. We have considered all options. We have not identified a suspect but have not ruled anything out.” Dickerson asked motorists who saw anything unusual during that time frame to contact police.
Dickerson said there is no live video but evidence he didn’t detail makes police “certain of the time frame.” A reporter asked whether the motive was road rage. Dickerson said that he couldn’t say that definitively but it was a motive under consideration and had come up in a lot of CrimeStopper tips.
3. Kaufman’s Emotional Mother Remembered Her Daughter as Compassionate With a ‘Heart of Gold’
Diane Kaufman, Caitlyn’s mother, thanked the Nashville community in the press conference, during which she became close to tears talking about her daughter.
“Caitlyn’s dream was to live in Nashville from the time she was in high school,” she said, describing her daughter as having a “Passion for nursing because she was a very caring individual.” She said that Kaufman meticulously researched nurse residency programs before choosing Nashville. When her residency ended, she was offered a job in the ICU.
“She was a very compassionate young lady and had a heart of gold and was on her way to work to help other people,” said her mother, breaking down. She said she was “pleading as her mother. Please help me find who did this to my daughter.”
During the press conference, Diane Kaufman clutched her daughter’s work badge.
“I need closure. I need that to be able to make any sense of this whatsoever,” she said.
Diane Kaufman said her daughter had received nursing awards. “The nursing community is the strongest set of individuals and colleagues that I ever run into. They are supporting my family with great strength in numbers,” she said.
To the killer, she said, “Why? Why did you do that to her. She didn’t deserve it. I can’t wrap my head around it.”
She was on the phone with her daughter before the shooting. “It was our normal everyday conversation. ‘On my way to work mom,’ ‘Ok honey.’ She was fine. I had to get off the phone and when I attempted to call her back there was no answer.”
4. Police Say Devaunte Hill Didn’t Know Kaufman
The two Colorado men, including a combat veteran, are accused of embarking on a random shooting spree after parking their vehicle at an intersection in Florida and opening fire at motorists.
Detective Chris Dickerson, in the news conference announcing Hill’s arrest, said that Hill and Kaufman didn’t know each other. However, he declined to release the motive for the random slaying.
Both Dickerson and Chief Drake alleged that Hill had implicated himself in the murder.
They said that a tipster left them to both Hill and the gun. They also stated that the recovered gun matched shell casings found at the scene “100 percent,” and that Hill’s cell phone placed him in the area at the time Kaufman was killed.
He was arrested at his apartment building.
5. An Anonymous Donor Has Offered a $10,000 Reward in the Kaufman Case
Nashville police say an anonymous donor is offering a $10,000 reward. A coalition of businesspeople later raised that amount even higher.
“Caitlyn Kaufman Homicide Update: A local man who wishes to remain publicly anonymous today posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest & conviction of the person(s) responsible for Caitlyn’s murder last Thursday. Have info? Please call 615-742-7463,” police wrote on Twitter.