Police: Reward money was crucial to get tip in case of murdered nurse

Rewards are set up to induce tips
Posted at 3:54 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 21:46:06-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The big break in the Caitlyn Kaufman case came after the reward jumped from $15,000 to more than $65,000. Some in the public say it's a shame it takes money to get a tip, but police say rewards work.

And there are some elements to the reward system that might surprise you. Did you know reward money is considered taxable income? And, did you know rewards are often crucial to solving cases like the murder of Nashville nurse Caitlyn Kaufman?

"Crime Stoppers makes a huge difference in criminal cases," said attorney David Raybin.

He is not with Crime Stoppers, but he dealt with it in the past when he was a prosecutor. Raybin says tipsters -- like the one in the Kaufman case -- should not be condemned for taking the money.

"There's nothing morally wrong with it."

Crimestoppers is a private, nonprofit. It administrates reward money -- not the local police department. So, to get a reward, a person must call Crime Stoppers. In the Kaufman case, someone called in a tip on suspect DeVante Hill to Crime Stoppers which has a call center based in Canada.

The tips are collected in complete confidence and then the information is forwarded to Metro Police. Detectives will never learn the identify of the tipster.

"You have to understand the reason for these rewards is to induce somebody to come forward who ordinarily wouldn't come forward," said Raybin.

He said there's risk to providing a tip on a dangerous person. Remaining anonymous means you can't be called to testify. And a tipster balances the risk with the reward offered.

People may not like that someone waited until the reward ballooned to more than $50,000 in the Kaufman case before making the call. But Raybin says to remember without that tip there is a good chance the accused killer would still be out there.

The anonymous tipster will get the reward money if and when the suspect is indicted in criminal court.