Source: Weekly Wire

Business has not been booming at the shop for more than a year — not since October 28, 1998, to be exact — the day Germantown police and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conducted a sensational and ill-fated fishing expedition there, angling for leads in the year-old murder of McDonald’s employee Delma Ramsey, who was beaten and strangled to death in the early morning hours of November 5, 1997.

Six months of suspicion leading up to last October’s search, however, failed to uncover evidence against Muskett and her husband Ron Seigel. They were exonerated earlier this year when two former McDonald’s employees were charged with the crime.

Last month, one year to the day of the search, the couple filed an $8 million civil suit in federal court against the city of Germantown and five members of its police department, alleging, among other things, “police conduct redolent of a self-aggrandizing media circus rather than a quest for truth.”

And a media circus it was — one that seemed to focus as much on Muskett’s love for cats and the fact that she and Seigel met over the Internet as on any evidence against them. But in a suburb known for — and even priding itself on — conformity and affluence, such eccentricities can be suspicious enough. More so, even, than evidence.

Late at night, the only place still hopping in Germantown is CK’s Coffee Shop. Gap-clad teenagers huddle in booths, guzzling bottomless cups of coffee and smoking cigarettes, and anyone who works late near the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Germantown Road is a regular: McDonald’s employees, Germantown cops, Mary Muskett and Ron Seigel.

It was at this coffee shop that Muskett first talked with police about the Ramsey murder. The day after the crime, she approached a uniformed officer and volunteered facts about her routine of feeding the stray cats then living in the woods behind McDonald’s. She would pull through the parking lot each night between 1:30 and 2 a.m., leaving some food for the strays on her way to her shop at Saddle Creek, where she typically spends the night taking care of paperwork and making ready for the day’s business.

“Yes, I am a night person,” said Muskett during an interview with her and Seigel shortly after their exoneration. “It is not a bizarre, weird thing that I do.”

A year later, parts of this routine would appear in an affidavit sworn to by Germantown detective J.D. Bruce to secure a warrant to search Muskett and Seigel’s home and business. According to the affadavit, an ATM video camera established that Muskett’s car pulled into the McDonald’s parking lot around 2 a.m. the night of the murder, some 20 minutes before Ramsey arrived and an hour before the brief window authorities pegged for the murder. Another surveillance camera, this one at a gas station near the crime scene, established that Muskett was at the station shortly after the crime.

Added: 2004