According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, "On the Case with Paula Zahn," a documentary news magazine on the Investigation Discovery channel, will air an episode dedicated to a 28-year-old Walker County murder of Nikia Kay Gilbreath Sunday night, Oct. 14, at 10 p.m.
Gilbreath's body was found in the woods in 1989, after someone had broken her ribs and stuffed wads of paper down her throat, suffocating her.
About four months after the killer abducted Gilbreath from her LaFayette home, investigators identified a suspect: Jamie Ray Ward, who had recently been arrested for stalking and raping another woman. Investigators determined he treated Gilbreath similarly to the victim in that case.
Investigators found a notebook in Ward's home, in which he had written directions to Gilbreath's home, along with a descriptor: "Fine looking." Investigators later learned that Ward had previously drilled a well on her property.
The case stalled for almost a decade, until the prosecution and Ward's attorney agreed to a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Larry Israel, executive producer of the program, told the Times Free Press that Gilbreath's murder fits the criteria for a good true crime program. The victim should be completely innocent, he said, as opposed to someone killed during a drug deal. The case should also be a mystery for several weeks or months, forcing detectives to work around the clock to find the culprit.