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Mystery surrounds death of Kat West, Alabama mom with risqué online life

Alabama authorities are faced with a question: Did Katherine West's online activities play a role in her death?
/ Source: Associated Press

CALERA, Alabama — Kathleen Dawn West described herself as a full-time wife and mom on Facebook, but she lived another life on other social media platforms, calling herself an exhibitionist and posting risque photos with a chance for subscribers to see sexier images for $15.99 a month.

West, 42, was found dead outside her home near Birmingham on Jan. 13, and authorities are faced with a question: Did West's online activities play a role in her death?

Police have classified West's death as a homicide, but they haven't said how she died. What appears to be the rest of a blood stain darkens the asphalt across the street from the two-story brick home she shared with her husband and middle school-age daughter.

No charges have been filed. But the mysterious nature of West's death — she was found dead in the quiet bedroom community of Calera, a town of 14,000 people about 35 miles south of Birmingham — has people buzzing.

At least two Facebook groups have been created to discuss the case, and neighbors are concerned in West's subdivision, where homes are still under construction.

"It's shocking that it happened so close to home, so all you can do is worry and think about your family, and that's all I've been doing," Xavier Lee, who lives two doors down, told WIAT-TV of Birmingham.

Word of West's death was met with sadness at the gym where she worked out until she dropped her membership a few months ago.

"She'd come in, do her thing and leave. She kind of kept to herself," said Austin Lockhart, owner of Fit 24 Calera. "She'd wave and smile. She was a nice lady."

As Kat West and Kitty Kat West, she posted lots of selfies on Facebook, and commenters often mentioned her attractiveness. But there were also photos of her wedding to her longtime husband, William Jeffrey West, and images of West and her daughter playing in the snow last month.

But West, a Florida native with blonde hair and a resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, seemed like a different person on other online accounts.

With a personal description that included "exhibitionist," West had a private Instagram account with nearly 52,000 followers that linked to a paid site that featured adult content and "naughty fun." Some of the images were included on a site for "mature hotties."

Similar content was posted on Twitter, where West's presence began in March 2016.

Initially, West just tweeted links to a site where she sold clothes, including dresses, coats, shoes and kid's wear. The feed took a sharp turn on Aug. 11, when she tweeted: "Happy Frisky Friday — Let's get this party started," with a link to the pay-per-view site. The description included a link to a "wish list" page where viewers could buy lingerie for her.

The posts continued until the morning before her death, when West tweeted a link to sell a women's wool jacket. A few days earlier, she had posted a lingerie photo showing her bare buttocks that linked to her adult site.

In Calera, neighbors don't know what to think about West's slaying.

"This child doesn't have their mother anymore. Don't know why, don't know what happened, that led up to the incident, but to wake up to that news, it makes you think," Lee said.

Federal court records show that West and her husband filed for bankruptcy in 2007 while living in Cartersville, Georgia, but the case appeared to be handled routinely and closed within months. Tax records indicate that they moved into the home in Calera in 2015. It was valued at $169,000 last year.