Real Name: David Davis
Wanted For: Murder
Missing Since: July 23, 1980
Details: On July 23, 1980, newlyweds David and Shannon Davis went for an afternoon horseback ride. Within an hour, Shannon was dead. According to David, she was not an experienced rider; when they reached the edge of the woods, she lost control and fell off her horse. She violently struck her head against the ground and was killed. At the hospital, she was pronounced dead as a result of the injuries she had received from the fall. Minutes later, her parents were surprised and upset when David insisted that her body be cremated. They knew that she did not believe in cremation, due to her beliefs. However, David claimed that cremation was what she wanted.
Later that night, Shannon's mother, Lucille, realized that her husband, Robert, had caught David in a lie about life insurance. After Shannon was pronounced dead, Robert asked David if he had a life insurance policy on her, and he said no. However, after their honeymoon, she had told Lucille that David had taken a life insurance policy out on her.
Three days after Shannon's death, she was buried. Her parents noticed that David appeared unmoved; he did not seem to care that she was dead. After her funeral, they learned about more lies that he had told. He had bragged to several people that he had been wounded in Vietnam, when, according to his own parents, he was never even in the military. Although, at first, Shannon's parents had accepted his story about her death, they were now beginning to suspect that he may have murdered her.
Two days after Shannon's funeral, six different insurance agencies contacted the funeral home, requesting copies of her death certificate. Her death left David the beneficiary of $330,000. Robert discovered that David may have been involved in other insurance scams. He allegedly burned down a farm near his old home and had set other fires to fake injury while working for an automotive company.
At her parents' insistence, Shannon's body was exhumed for another autopsy. The medical examiner found her injuries consistent with a fall from a horse. However, indications of an unknown drug were found in her body. Despite this, the examiner still ruled her death an accident. Three months later, a newspaper article exposed Dave's insurance scandals. Shannon's case was reopened and Dave moved to Florida.
One of the investigators contacted a toxicologist who had earlier found traces of an unknown drug in Shannon's body. He stated that he needed some information to try and narrow down the drugs that David may have used to poison her. The investigator told him that David was a dirt farmer and that he had several large animals on the farm. He suggested contacting veterinarians in the area who may have worked with David. One stated that a certain drug, normally used for large animals, could be used to paralyze a human.
The toxicologist tested this drug, an animal tranquilizer; he compared it to the one found in Shannon's body. It was determined to be a match. The investigator soon learned that David had been part of a deer hunting group, and that several years earlier, they had used this during one of their trips. Shannon was exhumed a second time; the medical examiner found two injection marks on her body. One was on her shoulder and the other was on her wrist.
Based on all of the evidence collected, on October 13, 1981, a grand jury issued a first-degree murder indictment for David. Authorities believe that he pushed or coaxed Shannon off her horse. He then wrestled her to the ground and paralyzed her with the tranquilizer drug. Finally, he struck her head on a rock to make her injuries appear accidental.
Unfortunately, David fled before authorities could arrest him. They have been searching for him ever since.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 29, 1987 episode. It was also profiled on America’s Most Wanted during David's flight from justice and documented on American Justice, Forensic Files, and The New Detectives after he was captured. In 1993, it was adapted into a NBC movie, Victim of Love: The Shannon Mohr Story, starring actor Dwight Schultz.
Results: Captured. After the case was rerun on December 28, 1988, David was arrested in American Samoa on January 6, 1989, after a viewer recognized him as an acquaintance. He was living with his 20-year-old Samoan wife in a one-room shack. He had told her his first wife died in a tragic accident.
Three weeks later, David was returned to Michigan to stand trial for murder. On December 5, 1989, after just two hours of deliberations, a jury convicted him of first-degree murder; he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He died in a prison hospital on November 9, 2014.
- Suspect In Wife’s 1980 Death Caught in American Samoa
- Man Finally Jailed After 7-year Run
- 7 Years On The Run, Murder Suspect Is Seized On Tv Show Tip
- Davis arraigned in wife's death
- Murder, They Wrote - Death No Accident, Toxicologist Proves
- People v. Davis (1993)
- Science challenged in '89 conviction
- Man infamous for killing wife with horse tranquilizer in 1980 dies in Jackson prison hospital
- David and Shannon Davis on My Life of Crime Wordpress