Real Name: David Davis
Aliases: Dave Davis
Wanted For: Murder
Missing Since: July 23, 1980
Details: On July 23, 1980, newlyweds Dave and Shannon Davis went for an afternoon horseback ride. Within an hour, Shannon was dead. According to Dave, Shannon 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 had against the ground and was killed. At the hospital, Shannon was pronounced dead as a result of the injuries she had received from her fall. Minutes later, Shannon's parents were surprised and upset when Dave insisted that Shannon's body be cremated. They knew that Shannon did not believe in cremation, due to her beliefs. However, Dave claimed that cremation was what Shannon wanted.
Later that night, Shannon's mother Lucille realized that her husband Robert had caught Dave in a lie about life insurance. After Shannon was pronounced dead, Robert asked Dave if he had a life insurance policy on Shannon, and he said no. However, after her honeymoon, Shannon had told her mother that Dave had taken a life insurance policy out on her.
Three days after Shannon's death, she was buried. Shannon's parents noticed that Dave appeared unmoved; he did not seem to care that his wife was dead. After the funeral, they learned about more lies that Dave had told. Dave 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 Dave's story about Shannon's death, they were now beginning to suspect that he may have murdered her.
Two days after the funeral, six different insurance agencies contacted the funeral home, requesting copies of Shannon's death certificate. Shannon's death left Dave the beneficiary of $330,000. Robert discovered that Dave 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. The toxicologist stated that he needed some information to try and narrow down the drugs that Dave may have used to poison Shannon. The investigator told him that Dave was a dirt farmer and that he had several large animals on the farm. The toxicologist suggested contacting veterinarians in the area who may have worked with Dave. One veterinarian 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 drug found in Shannon's body. It was determined to be a match. The investigator soon learned that Dave had been part of a deer hunting group, and that several years earlier, they had used this drug during one of their trips. Shannon was exhumed a second time; the medical examiner found two injection marks on her body. One mark was on her shoulder and another mark 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 Dave Davis. Authorities believe that Dave pushed or coaxed Shannon off of 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, Dave Davis 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. Davis was also profiled on America’s Most Wanted. The case was also documented on American Justice and Forensic Files. 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 re-run on December 28, 1988, Dave 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, Dave 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. Dave Davis died in a prison hospital on November 9, 2014.