|This article originally appeared in Murder will Out! A Unpublished Manuscript by the late Glenn H. Waight.|
Missing Girl Killed?
Robert Wooten was linked to the 1979 disappearance and possible murder of a teen-aged Dixonville girl whose fate remains unknown for her family and area law agencies.
Evelyn Louise Davis, 17, was sunbathing in her backyard June 21 when someone she knew asked her to accompany him to meet a friend of hers. She was never seen or heard from again.
The incident was first treated as a routine runaway, but an anonymous letter sent to county officials a year afterward turned authorities to different suspicions.
The writer claimed the girl was slain by the man she was last seen with, and provided information which led law officers to finding the girl's clothes hidden in the Alpha St. home of one of the suspect's relatives and where he once resided.
That suspect was reported to be serving three life sentences for a triple homicide for which he was arrested two weeks after Louise's disappearance.
THE DESCRIPTION FIT Robert Wooten convicted in the bludgeon deaths of Deborah Davis Taylor and her two children June 26, 1979, in their W. Eighth St. home. He is serving three consecutive life sentences for the killings.
The late Mayor William Devon was a city detective when Louise Davis was first reported missing, and he verified Wooten was reported the man last seen with Louise at the Stop and Go store on Pennsylvania Ave.
Devon, who had obtained a confession from Wooten in the triple Taylor murders, was among those who searched the East End home after the anonymous letter was received in 1980.
The law men hunted through the basement of the home, and found tucked in corner rafters a brown bag containing articles of clothing. The items included a bikini bottom, small tank top and a pair of jeans. "Right at that moment I knew she was dead, and I was positive who did it," Devon recalled.
"The jeans really stuck out in my mind," Devon said, "because they had some sort of red design on the pockets. I remembered from reports that the jeans Louise Davis was wearing had a red design. Her parents later identified the clothes, but I already knew they were hers. My God, I knew."
With this discovery, police obtained a team of bloodhounds and tracked them around the house which was surrounded by woods. Devon said about ten officers with shovels followed the dogs up into the woods, searching and digging eight hours a day for three days without finding anything. But he noted that the dogs always went in the same direction -- straight up over the hill.
Then on July 4, 1980, Devon went to the prison and talked with Wooten. The detective thought he would spend only an hour or so trying to get the prisoner to cooperate, to confirm Louise's fate and ease the anxiety of her family, "to find this little girl and give her a proper burial."
Instead, Devon talked to him more than eight hours, hoping for a break. The detective said the suspect admitted knowing Louise, but was not responsible for her disappearance. As Devon left, Wooten told him he would "think about" the situation and meet him in a couple of weeks.
But a few days before the expected visit, Devon received a call from a prison official relaying a message from the prisoner that he did not want to see the detective, that a trip would be worthless.
This is the text of the double-spaced, typewritten letter to David Tobin, then county Prosecutor: Law officers requested deletion of specific names:
I am writing you concerning Louise Davis. I know where you can find her or should say her BODY. . . / can also prove that (name deleted) did it.
First of all let me give you some proof that I do know what I am telling you.
If you would go to (name deleted) house in East End and go into the celler and go to the far corner of the house under their new kitchen I believe, and in the very corner there is a space between the floor and the wall and in that space you will find the clothes Louise was wearing the day she was last seen and all you have to do is take these clothes to Louises house and see if her family recognizes them. I'M sure that they will.
After you do that and you know for sure that the clothes were the ones she was wearing when she disappeared, then maybe you will know that I am telling you the truth. Buried with the body is a reddish brown purse with fairly long carrying straps.
If you want to know the location of the body then you have to do as t say.. Bring (name deleted) back to the 'county jail,' 3 days after you bring him back you will either have the location of the body or the body itself.
What I want is a chance to kill (name deleted). Another thing to prove I am real is that I tried to get in to see (name deleted) when he was at the east liverpool jail but I would not give my name to a tall blonde-haired guy so he would not let me see him.
I think that I have told you enough for you to know I am telling the truth so do as I say and you will get the body and the proof you need to convict (name deleted) IF he lives that long..
Just so you'll know how i know all this, at one time me and (name deleted) were pretty good friends and then he had to go and kill (name deleted) and her kids if he did kill them. He was convicted so I have to believe that he did do it so know / have to do some thing about it.
(Name deleted) is not alive SO WHY SHOULD (name deleted) BE ALIVE . . . Is this what you people call law? I don't want to hear anything about this until after you bring (name deleted) back because if I do hear anything then won't do anything and you will never find the body . . . PERIOD.
GLAD TO BE OF SERVICE
News reports about the letter and missing girl were published nationwide via the Associated Press, and some readers in the Warren area notified the Warren Tribune-Chronicle of the similarity of the young woman to description of a corpse discovered in1989 near that city.
A reconstructed likeness had appeared in the Tribune-Chronicle, and on the basis of this possible link, dental records of both were compared. However, examination revealed no confirming identification.
Early in 1997 the Davis family viewed a television talk show featuring a California psychic with a reputation for locating loved ones missing from their families.
Rachel Davis and Barb Davis, sister and cousin of the missing girl, contacted the psychic, Sylvia Brown, and eventually met with her in January at New York where she had appeared on the Montel Williams show.
Brown first indicated Louise was in a wooded area of the East End. Later she gave a more detailed description of the possible location of the body. The site, she said, was on a hill, and the victim in a deep hole, possibly a well, covered by railroad ties.
BROWN ALSO provided information she could not have learned from other sources -- that Louise talked with a slight lisp caused by a bike mishap injury to her mouth.
The psychic told the women Louise had been beaten to death by the killer who had an accomplice.
The two Davises followed Brown's directions, and discovered railroad ties piled over a filled-in hole on a hill site. Removing top layers of the hole revealed water seeping upward.
Sheriff Richard Koffel declined to excavate the site, pointing out his department had its own on-going investigation. He did not rule out digging there in the future.
Koffel said his office arranged for an inspection of the site by an aide from the state Bureau of Mining who reported no old caves or wells underground. Koffel said there is a wet spot where railroad ties were found, but no opening or shaft beneath.
The Sheriff said, "I know they're not happy with us, but that's the way it is. We're not dodging it. We've sent guys to California to pursue this."
On the June 1997 anniversary of Louise's disappearance, the family conducted a rally on Alpha St. to honor her memory and call attention to the need for continuing investigation.
In October 1997 an Alpha St. resident granted permission to the family to dig on his property where the Davises believe Louise's body may be found. The family also launched a "Need to Find" campaign with buttons bearing the girl's photo.
Meanwhile, after 18 years the family continues to hope to learn Louise's fate. "She is at least entitled to a proper funeral."
LOOKING FOR LOUISE DAVIS.wmvhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epFkTZXwWfE
Some Additional Information:
Her friend Debbie Taylor: