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Hunting club horror: Ex-Navy JAG identified as suspect in writer wife’s dismemberment murder in Georgia woods

Mindi Mebane Kassotis

Mindi Mebane Kassotis (Georgia Bureau of Investigation, sketch by GBI forensic artist Kelly Lawson)

A husband and former Navy judge advocate is under arrest in Pennsylvania months after his wife’s dismembered remains were found on a hunting club’s grounds in Georgia.

Nicholas James Kassotis, a 40-year-old also known by the name Nicholas Killian James Stark, was booked into jail in Pennsylvania on May 12, one day after investigators identified Mindi Mebane Kassotis, 40, as the woman found by hunters in the woods of the Portal Hunting Club on Dec. 2, 2022.

A “dark blue long sleeve, ‘Merona’ brand shirt,” a “camisole top,” “light gray boy shorts” and “white ‘Amazon Essentials’ underwear” were found with the victim’s remains. Additional searching turned up more remains elsewhere on the hunting club property, authorities said.

“Initially, partial remains of a white female were discovered off Jones Road in the woods of the Portal Hunting Club in Riceboro, Liberty County, GA. Additional remains were discovered within a three-mile radius on the hunting club property in Liberty County, as well as McIntosh County,” said state investigators with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). “Further testing has determined that the remains were placed in the area on or around November 27, 2022.

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The state law enforcement agency believes that the victim was dead in the woods in Riceboro for one or two weeks before she was found. Riceboro is around 45 minutes of driving away from Savannah, where the victim lived with her husband at time of her death, authorities said.

The GBI credited the FBI in Atlanta, Baltimore and Lancaster, as well as local police and sheriff’s offices, for their assistance, which included the use of genetic genealogy to move the investigation forward.

“The focus of investigative genetic genealogy is on the construction of family trees for the persons identified as possible family members to the victim/suspect by combing through public and government records,” GBI noted. “FBI personnel then compare the persons identified in the family trees with the location and timing of the crime to identify the likely suspect. Lastly, the FBI seeks a comparison between the victim’s DNA and the DNA from a parent of the victim to verify the identity.”

Suspect Nicholas Kassotis now faces charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and tampering with evidence. Authorities additionally charged that he removed body parts from a scene of death or dismemberment.

A November 2016 announcement in the newspaper said that the couple married that October at Morven Park in Leesburg, Va.

Mindi was a writer and businesswoman with a Master of Arts in public and international affairs from Virginia Tech, while Nicholas was a judge advocate in the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, the wedding announcement said. One news article from 2017 identified Kassotis as the “director of the Navy’s International and Operational Law Division.” Virginia’s attorney directory lists the defendant as no longer a member of the bar in the state.

Law&Crime reached out to the Navy for more information about the suspect’s employment history.

The Navy said he was a reserve judge advocate General Corps officer who was commissioned in June 2006 and rose to Lieutenant Commander by Sept. 1, 2015, receiving the following awards and decorations:

Meritorious Service Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2)
Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2)
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Meritorious Unit Commendation
National Defense Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Overseas Service Ribbon (2)
NATO Medal

Kassotis has not been in the Navy since Aug. 29, 2019, his listed “separation date,” the Navy said.

Records reviewed by Law&Crime on Monday morning showed that the defendant has been held in Lancaster County Prison in Pennsylvania since Friday afternoon under the name Nicholas Killian James Stark. His extradition to Georgia is next.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.