A Sweet Potato And ‘The Wire’ Led To The Arrest Of A Suspect In A Decade-Old Homicide Case

A Massachusetts man has been arrested for the 2011 murder of Todd Lampley after police linked the man to DNA left behind at the crime scene on a sweet potato.

Devarus Hampton, 40, was arrested Friday and arraigned Monday on charges of murder, assault, and battery with a deadly weapon, WCVB reported. Monday marked the 12-year anniversary of Lampley’s murder.

Lampley, a father of young daughters originally from Mississippi, was found shot to death in a bedroom of his Hyannis, Massachusetts, home on February 27, 2011. Police found shell casings and a phone linked to the name Marlo Stanfield, a fictional character on the TV show “The Wire.” They also found a sweet potato at the scene, which had been used in the show as a silencer. The sweet potato at the scene had a hole in it, ABC News reported.

“The sweet potato appears to be used as a silencer,” First Assistant District Attorney Jessica Elumba told ABC.

The sweet potato was tested for DNA, and prosecutors said that DNA matched Hampton’s. In addition to the DNA, a GPS monitor worn by Hampton due to a previous crime put the suspect at the home at the time Lampley was murdered, Elumba said.

The GPS tracking also put Hampton at a pond the day after the murder, where a gun was recovered.

Authorities did not provide any details on why it took 12 years to arrest Hampton.

“I can’t make a specific comment on the delay. The evidence was assessed as of now,” Assistant District Attorney Russell Eonas told the Cape Cod Times.


Edward Fogarty, Hampton’s court-appointed defense attorney, said his client was innocent and that they will mount “a vigorous defense.”

“It is a very old case. After review of whatever the Commonwealth now says they have as evidence, we’re confident it will result in his innocence,” Fogarty told the Times.

On the night of the shooting, Lampley was at home with his girlfriend, her mother, and another man, prosecutors said in court on Monday. The unnamed man was watching TV with Lampley in the bedroom before leaving to join Lampley’s girlfriend in the living room. The unnamed man then reportedly made a phone call.

“He’s on the phone. Shortly after, shots are fired,” Elumba, the prosecutor, told the Times.

The man gave police his cell phone and noticed that the phone records on the phone didn’t match the phone records police obtained from the service provider.

“And the records don’t match. There’s several calls missing from the visual inspection of the phone that appear” Elumba said, adding that several calls to and from Hampton before and after the shooting had been deleted. It is unclear whether the unnamed man will be arrested in connection to Lampley’s death.

Hampton’s motive may be tied to a 2007 shooting death for which he blamed Lampley. In 2010, Hampton implicated Lampley at a trial for the shooting death of 18-year-old Jacques Sellers. Hampton claimed at the trial that Lampley had indicated he had some role in the shooting. Lampley denied involvement during that trial and was never charged.

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