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Juan Ignacio Blanco††

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Richard Allen DAVIS

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 1 - 2
Date of murders: October 12, 1973 / October 1, 1993
Date of arrest: November 30, 1993
Date of birth: June 2, 1954
Victims profile: Marlene Voris, 18 (his girlfriend) / Polly Klaas, 12
Method of murder: Shooting / Strangulation
Location: Sonoma County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on August 5, 1996
 
 

 
 

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The Supreme Court of California

 

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In 1993, Polly Klaas was abducted from her home during a sleepover party with several friends. Richard Allen Davis, a wanted man, had sneaked into the Klaas home, tied up the girls and kidnapped Polly at knifepoint. Her abduction led to a nationwide manhunt for Davis, and television shows such as 20/20 and America's Most Wanted featured the case. Upon his arrest, Davis confessed to killing Polly and burying her body in a shallow grave. He received the death penalty for his crime.


Richard Allen Davis (born June 2, 1954) is a convicted murderer, whose criminal record fueled support for passage of California's "Three strikes law" for repeat offenders. He is currently on death row in San Quentin State Prison, California. He was convicted in 1996 of first-degree murder and four special circumstances (robbery, burglary, kidnapping, and a lewd act on a child) of 12-year-old Polly Klaas. Klaas was abducted October 1, 1993, from her Petaluma, California, home.

A San Jose, California, Superior Court jury recommended the death sentence for Davis on August 5, 1996. After the verdict was read, Davis stood and flipped the bird at the courtroom with both hands. Later, at his formal sentencing, Davis read a statement claiming that Klaas had said to Davis, "Just donít do me like my dad," just before Davis killed her, implying that Klaas' father was a child molester. Klaas' father reacted angrily and left the courtroom to avoid causing further commotion. Judge Thomas C. Hastings proceeded with the formality of the death sentence, saying "Mr. Davis, this is always a traumatic and emotional decision for a judge. You made it very easy today by your conduct.

Early life

Richard "Rick" Allen Davis was born, the third of five children, in San Francisco. Both of his parents, Bob and Evelyn Davis, were alcoholics. His mother was a strict disciplinarian and is believed to have punished Davis for smoking by burning his hand.

The couple divorced when Davis was 11. After their divorce, Bob, a longshoremen, won custody of all five children "because of the mother's alleged immoral conduct in the presence of the children," according to a probation report on Davis. He moved around a lot, living variously in Chowchilla, Fremont, and San Francisco. The bulk of his childhood was spent in the small village of La Honda.

Davis' father would remarry three times; Davis resented all of his stepmothers. Although he had wanted custody when their marriage dissolved, the elder Davis was sometimes either unable or unwilling to care for his children, so they shuttled between their parents, as well as between paternal and maternal grandparents. Bob Davis was evidently mentally unstable and sometimes suffered from hallucinations; he is reported to have taken a gun outside the home and shot at mirages.

At an early age, Davis tortured and killed animals. According to Ruth Baron, mother of one of Davis' childhood friends, "He would douse cats with gasoline and set them on fire. He made a point of letting people know he carried a knife, and he used to find stray dogs and cut them."

A few people in Davis' life have happier memories of him, however; his younger sister, Darlene, remembered him as a responsible substitute for their often absent parents. "Rick brought me up," she said. "He cooked and cleaned. He was my father and my mother."

By the time he entered his teens, Davis was already deeply into a life of crime. He told a psychiatrist that stealing was a surefire way to relieve whatever "tensions" were building up inside of him. He dropped out of high school in his sophomore year.

At 17, Davis found himself in front of a judge, who told him that he could either go to the California Youth Authority or join the U.S. Army. He chose the latter. Stationed in Germany, he worked as a military truck driver. He also resumed committing a variety of petty crimes. The army eventually caught up with him and he was given a less than honorable discharge after 13 months of service. His thick, beefy arms were now covered with a variety of black tattoos, many of them of spider webs.

On October 12, 1973, he went to a party at the home of 18-year-old Marlene Voris, whom he claimed was his girlfriend. That night, Voris was found dead of a gunshot wound; there were no less than seven suicide notes at the scene, and the police concluded that the young lady had indeed done away with herself. Others, such as Ruith Baron, believe Davis murdered her.

Davis would later claim that Voris shot herself "almost in his presence" and that he had been traumatized by it.

A few weeks after Voris' death, Davis was arrested for attempting to pawn various items he had stolen. He confessed to a string of burglaries in La Honda but claimed he had been motivated, at least sometimes, by hunger. Davis served six months in the county jail. Five weeks after his release, on May 13, 1974, he was arrested for another burglary. He was sentenced to six months to fifteen years in prison. He served a little more than two years.

Arrest record

1960s

  • March 6, 1967: At age 12, Davis has his first contact with law enforcement when he was arrested for burglary in Chowchilla, where he lived with his grandmother.

  • May 24, 1967: Arrested again for forging a $10 money order. He was briefly in Juvenile Hall before his father moved him and his siblings to La Honda.

  • November 15, 1969: Arrested for the burglary of a La Honda home.

  • November 16, 1969: The first of several occasions when Davis' father turns Davis and his older brother over to juvenile authorities for incorrigibility.

1970s

  • September 15, 1970: Arrested for participating in a motorcycle theft. A probation officer and judge accept his father's suggestion that he enlist in the Army to avoid being sent to the California Youth Authority.

  • July 1971: Entered the Army. His military record reflects several infractions for AWOL, fighting, failure to report, and morphine use.

  • August 1972: General discharge from the military.

  • February 12, 1973: Arrested in Redwood City for public drunkenness and resisting arrest. Placed on one-year summary probation.

  • April 21, 1973: Arrested in Redwood City for being a minor in possession of liquor, burglary and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Charged with trespassing, later dismissed.

  • August 13, 1973: Arrested in Redwood City leaning against hedges extremely intoxicated. Released upon sobriety.

  • October 24, 1973: Arrested in Redwood City on traffic warrants. Between April and October, he was implicated in more than 20 La Honda burglaries, leading a probation officer to report that residents were so angry at him, he might be in danger if he returned to La Honda. He pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to six months in county jail and placed on three years' probation.

  • May 13, 1974: Arrested for burglarizing South San Francisco High School. He was sent to the California Medical Facility, Vacaville, for a 90-diagnostic study. A county probation officer recommended prison, but proceedings were suspended when Davis enrolled in a Veterans Administration alcohol treatment program. He quit on the second day.

  • September 16, 1974: Sentenced to one year in county jail for the school burglary. He was allowed to leave jail to attend a Native American drug and alcohol treatment program. He failed to return, leaving behind two angry fellow inmates who had given Davis money to buy drugs and bring the contraband back to jail.

  • March 2, 1975: After being released, the two inmates tracked Davis down and shot him in the back. He was rearrested on a probation violation for failing to return to jail. Later, he testified against the inmates, earning him the epithet of "snitch" from fellow inmates. He was placed in protective custody.

  • April 11, 1975: Arrested for parole violation.

  • July 11, 1975: Arrested for auto theft and possession of marijuana. Received 10-day jail sentence.

  • August 13, 1975: Probation revoked after arrest for San Francisco burglary and grand theft. He was sentenced to a term of from six months to 15 years in prison.

  • August 2, 1976: Paroled from Vacaville.

  • September 24, 1976: Abducted Frances Mays, a 26-year-old legal secretary, from the South Hayward BART station and attempted to sexually assault her. She escaped and hailed a passing car in which California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Wentz was riding. Wentz arrested Davis.

  • December 8, 1976: Transferred to Napa State Hospital for psychiatric evaluation after he tried to hang himself in a cell at Alameda County Jail. He later admitted he faked the suicide attempt in order to be sent to a state hospital, where he could more easily escape. He was mistakenly admitted as a voluntary patient rather than a prisoner.

  • December 16, 1976: Escaped from Napa State Hospital and went on a four-day crime spree in Napa. He broke into the home of Marjorie Mitchell, a nurse at the state hospital, and beat her on the head with a fire poker while she slept. He broke into a car to kidnap Hazel Frost, a bartender, as she climbed into her Cadillac outside a bar. When she saw he had bindings, she rolled out of the car, grabbed a gun from beneath the seat and fired six shots at the fleeing Davis.

  • December 21, 1976: Broke into the home of Josephine Kreiger, a bank employee, in La Honda. He was arrested by a San Mateo County sheriff's deputy hiding in brush behind the home with a shotgun.

  • June 1, 1977: Sentenced to a term of one to 25 years in prison for the Mays kidnapping. A sexual assault charged was dropped as part of a plea bargain. He was later sentenced to concurrent terms for the Napa crime spree and the La Honda break-in.

1980s

  • March 4, 1982: Paroled from the Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy.
    November 30, 1984: With new girlfriend-accomplice Sue Edwards, he pistol-whipped Selina Varich, a friend of Edwards' sister, in her Redwood City apartment and forced her to withdraw $6,000 from her bank account. Davis and Edwards make a successful escape.

  • March 22, 1985: Arrested in Modesto when a police officer noticed a defective taillight. He and Edwards were charged with robbing a Yogurt Cup shop and the Delta National Bank in Modesto. Authorities in Kennewick, Washington, were unaware for several years that the pair had robbed a bank, a Value Giant store and the Red Steer restaurant during the winter of 1984Ė1985. Davis later confessed to the crimes in an attempt to implicate Edwards, whom he believed to have welshed on a promise to help him while he was in prison.

1990s

  • June 27, 1993: Paroled from the California Men's Colony, San Luis Obispo, after serving half of a 16-year sentence for the Varich kidnapping.

  • October 1, 1993: Davis kidnapped Polly Klaas during a slumber party at her Petaluma home and murdered her.

  • October 19, 1993: Arrested in Ukiah for drunken driving during the search for Polly. He failed to appear in court.

  • November 30, 1993: Arrested for parole violation on the Coyote Valley Indian Reservation north of Ukiah; he is identified as the prime suspect in the kidnapping.

  • December 4, 1993: Davis provides investigators with information that leads them to Polly's body off U.S. Route 101 near Cloverdale.

  • December 7, 1993: Charged with the kidnapping/murder of Polly.

  • June 18, 1996: Convicted of kidnapping/murder of Polly.

  • August 5, 1996: Superior Court jury in San Jose recommends death sentence.

2000s

  • June 1, 2009: The California Supreme Court upholds Davis' death sentence. Davis had argued that his jailhouse confession was illegal because it was given without an attorney present, but the Court said that police can ignore a suspect's rights to counsel if they believe someone's life is in jeopardy.

Wikipedia.org


Murder of Polly Klaas

Polly Hannah Klaas (January 3, 1981 - October 1993) was an American murder victim whose case gained national attention. At the age of 12, she was kidnapped at knife point from her mother's home during a slumber party in Petaluma, California, on October 1, 1993. She was later strangled. Richard Allen Davis was convicted of her murder in 1996 and sentenced to death.

Background

On October 1, 1993, Klaas invited two friends for a sleepover. Around 10:30 p.m., she opened her bedroom door to fetch sleeping bags, when she saw a man with a knife. He tied the girls up, told Klaas' friends to count to 1,000, and then kidnapped Klaas. Over the next two months, about 4,000 people helped search for her. TV shows such as 20/20 and America's Most Wanted covered the kidnapping.

At the time, Davis was a wanted man: the California Highway Patrol had issued an all points bulletin for a violation of parole for a previous crime: any police officer encountering him was to arrest him on that charge (The bulletin was broadcast on the CHP channel, which only CHP radios could receive. CHP practice changed after the case; such bulletins are now broadcast on all police channels).

During the search, police officers encountered Davis in a nearby rural area, where his Ford Pinto was stuck in the mud. Unaware of the APB, the local police let him go, presumably without calling his driver's license number in to their dispatcher, which would have resulted in his arrest. It is believed that he promptly drove to an isolated spot, killed Polly, and buried her in a shallow grave.

On November 30, police arrested Davis for violation of parole during routine patrol and the arresting officer recognized him from police sketches. As his palm print had been found in Klaas' bedroom, he was charged with the crime. Four days later, he led police to Polly's body near Cloverdale. Davis said that he strangled her from behind with a piece of cloth. Although there was no method to scientifically validate this statement as the body had decayed for months, it was consistent with the evidence.

Winona Ryder

Actress Winona Ryder, who had been raised in Petaluma, offered a $200,000 reward for Polly's safe return during the search. After Polly's death, Ryder starred in a film version of Little Women and dedicated it to Klaas' memory, the Louisa May Alcott novel having been Polly's favorite book.

Aftermath

In the wake of the murder, Polly's father, Marc Klaas, became a child advocate and established the KlaasKids Foundation. He has made himself available to parents of kidnapped children, and has appeared frequently on Larry King Live, CNN Headline News, and Nancy Grace.

Five years after Klaas' murder, a performing arts center was named in her honor in Petaluma.

The story of Klaas' kidnapping and hunt for Davis was depicted in episode 1, season 1 of the The FBI Files documentary show, under the title of "Polly Klaas: Kidnapped", premiered on October 20, 1998.

In 2004, Klaas' paternal grandfather, writer Joe Klaas (who, coincidentally, was best known for having co-authored a book about missing aviator Amelia Earhart), endorsed California Proposition 66 to "fix the flaw in the law" of the Three strikes law. His son Marc opposed the law.

Wikipedia.org


Before Being Sentenced to Die, Killer Disrupts a Courtroom

The New York Times

Friday, September 27, 1996

The killer of 12-year-old Polly Klaas was sentenced to death today at the close of dramatic courtroom scene in which a comment from the defendant sent the girl's outraged father from the room.

The father, Marc Klaas, rose from his seat and lunged toward the defendant, Richard Allen Davis, before submitting to deputies who hustled him toward the door.

Mr. Klaas shouted at the defendant as Mr. Klaas's mother, B. J., loudly sobbed.

Mr. Klaas's outburst came in response to Mr. Davis's accusation that Mr. Klaas had molested Polly.

Greg Jacobs, the prosecutor, said no abuse accusation had been leveled against Mr. Klaas, nor was there evidence to support it, The Associated Press reported.

''If I thought for a moment I could get my hands on him, I might have gone for him,'' Mr. Klaas later told reporters.

Judge Thomas C. Hastings of Santa Clara County Superior Court, who imposed the death sentence, said: ''Mr. Davis, this is always a traumatic and emotional decision for a judge. You made it very easy today by your conduct.''

Polly, a seventh-grader in the Northern California town of Petaluma, was kidnapped at knifepoint from a slumber party in her own bedroom as her mother and younger sister slept down the hall.

The Oct. 1, 1993, abduction prompted a search that garnered international attention.

A twice-convicted kidnapper with a history of assaults against women, Mr. Davis had been on parole just three months when he took Polly from her home, killed her and abandoned her body at the edge of a highway 60 miles away.

Mr. Davis confessed to the killing four days after his arrest and led the police to her body.

In his statement today, he criticized the authorities for refusing to provide him a lawyer upon his arrest, and said he would not otherwise have made any admissions and forced his lawyers to concede his guilt to several counts.

A jury in San Jose, where the case was moved last year after efforts to seat an impartial jury in Sonoma County failed, convicted Mr. Davis in June on 10 felony counts including the only disputed charge in the case: attempting a lewd act with a child under the age of 14.

It was Mr. Davis's final remark and the reaction it prompted that drew gasps in the courtroom.

''I would also like to state for the record that the main reason I know that I did not attempt any lewd act that night was because of a statement the young girl made to me while walking her up the embankment: ''Just don't do me like Dad.' ''

His last sentence was barely audible above the murmurs that spread through the room, loudest among them Mr. Klaas's shouting. But seconds later, Mr. Klaas suddenly rose and lunged, saying obscenities as he was pushed from the room.

Mr. Davis's case automatically will be appealed to the California Supreme Court, but can be appealed to Federal courts as well, a process experts say could take 10 to 15 years.


Polly's smiling killer gets death sentence

Tuesday, August 6th 1996

Richard Allen Davis smiled yesterday as he was sentenced to death for murdering 12-year-old Polly Klaas after snatching her from a slumber party at her California home.

The girl's father, Marc Klaas, said the smile proved that the man who embodies the bogeyman of every parent's worst nightmare is a real-life monster.

"It's sad," he said, "that someone would be so emotionally bankrupt that they would be smirking as their own death sentence was being read to them."

After four days of deliberations, the jury of six men and six women announced that Davis a parolee who confessed to strangling Polly with a piece of yellow cloth should die by lethal injection.

"The justice system did not fail my daughter again," Klaas said. "It doesn't bring our daughter back into our lives, but it gets one monster off the streets."

Prosecutor Greg Jacobs said Davis, 42, will spend decades on Death Row running through appeals before he is executed.

But Klaas, with the gruesome smile of a vengeful father, said he expects Davis won't live long in prison where child murderers historically are targeted by other inmates.

"Richard Allen Davis deserves to die for what he did to my child," he said. "I don't expect him to be executed, quite frankly not by the state."

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Thomas Hastings can change the verdict to life without parole at Davis' formal sentencing Sept. 26.

Davis was convicted in June of abducting Polly on Oct. 1, 1993, at knifepoint from a slumber party, while her mother slept down the hall in their Petaluma, Calif., home. The girl's body was found in December 1993 in a shallow grave by a California freeway.

The shocking crime by a man with many convictions helped spur California to adopt its so-called three strikes and you're out law.

Davis' lawyers had tried to win sympathy from the jury by revealing grim details of the abuse he had suffered as a child.

Polly's grandfather Joe Klaas said the family's torment had come to some sort of resolution.

"We've been going to hell with Davis," he said. "He can go the rest of the way alone."


SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE: Sex

MO: Suspect in shotgun "suicide" of girlfriend; rapeslayer of 12-year-old girl

DISPOSITION: Condemned on one count

 

 

 
 
 
 
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