NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro police have arrested a 21-year-old suspect in the killing of Nashville nurse Caitlyn Kaufman.
Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake announced the arrest Friday morning, saying SWAT members took Devaunte L. Hill into custody without incident at his East Nashville apartment at 6:15 a.m. He's being charged with criminal homicide.
Police said Hill and Kaufman did not know each other.
BREAKING: Devaunte L. Hill, 21, is in custody for the murder of Nashville nurse Caitlyn Kaufman. MNPD SWAT members arrested him at 6:15 a.m. at his East Nashville apartment. He is being charged with criminal homicide. pic.twitter.com/lJ6LMHy8v7— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) December 11, 2020
Chief Drake said they had a break in the case within an hour of a $50,000 reward being announced for information leading to an arrest.
“I understand many of those persons involved in the rewards are dads who have families in Nashville and love Nashville deeply. And I thank them for their contribution,” said Chief Drake.
Drake said a concerned citizen came forward Thursday afternoon and identified Hill as a suspect. That person also provided information as to the whereabouts of the 9mm that police say was used in the killing.
Police recovered the gun later that night and called in ballistic experts to do an immediate analysis overnight. Drake said the gun was test fired and had a “100% match” of the three 9mm shell casings found at the scene.
Drake said additionally, electronic experts were able to identify Hill’s cell number and determined that his phone was in the vicinity the night Kaufman was killed.
According to police, Hill implicated himself in the killing during a consented interview with homicide detectives; however, police did not elaborate on the nature of those implications.
Kaufman was on her way to work on December 3 when police say she was shot and killed in her SUV on Interstate 440. She was a nurse in the Saint Thomas Hospital West ICU.
Earlier this week, her mother, Diane Kaufman, spoke during a Metro Nashville Police press briefing and asked for the Nashville community's help to find her daughter's killer.
Lead Detective Chris Dickerson said he spoke with Diane Kaufman following Hill's arrest this morning and said she expressed her gratitude to everyone on the case. Kaufman returned to their Pennsylvania home on Thursday to prepare for Caitlyn's funeral, which is on Saturday.
“While it was a relief to be able to sign the arrest warrant naming Hill at 3:37 this morning, it was an exceptional relief to be able to call Caitlyn’s mother, Diane, in Pennsylvania this morning to tell her that an arrest had been made,” Dickerson said. “Throughout this investigation, we have felt the support of all of Nashville, and the strong support of the Kaufman family.”
The investigation remains ongoing. Police said they cannot rule out additional arrests in the case.
“We’re not going to rule anything out,” Dickerson added. “We’re going to continue with the investigation."
Ascension Saint Thomas released the following statement:
“Ascension Saint Thomas continues mourning the loss of Caitlyn Kaufman's tragic passing and continues supporting the efforts of law enforcement officials working to seek justice through their investigation. We are hopeful that justice for Caitlyn's family will be served following the announcement that a suspect has been arrested as part of the ongoing investigation.
Those who knew Caitlyn Kaufman witnessed the overwhelming compassion and kindness she showed for each person she cared for and worked alongside during her two years in Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West’s ICU.
As we continue to care for our community during this COVID pandemic the most important way to support our nurses and other frontline caregivers is by wearing a mask, washing your hands as well as social distancing.”
Watch the full update from Metro police: