A Quiet Death

The last his family heard from him, Jacob Davidson said he could never return home. A year later, he was dead. The police say it was suicide. Those who knew him think otherwise.

From there, the stories diverge. Doe and Bob Kendrick insist there was a baseball cap soaked in blood that lay in the sink; since the family was advised by investigators that they'd finished taking evidence, the cleaners threw it away. Detective Winn says police discovered a visor cap between the toilet and the cabinet and took it as evidence and that he'd later heard claims there was a baseball cap in the bathtub, but that he knew nothing about it.

Sergeant Ross Salverino is Winn's supervisor and one of the officers in Crimes Against Persons, which encompasses the homicide division. On allegations that the police search of the death scene had been hurried and careless, he replies, "We don't take days [combing a potential crime scene for evidence] the way some municipalities do. We're in and out. We do it all at the same time." And as for the baseball cap, Salverino says, "I asked and was told that there was no baseball cap left behind. I'd like to think if it was part of a crime scene, it would've been taken."

As for the state of the body, there were scratches and bruises on the lower face, neck and chest, the severity of which have been debated. Police investigators, citing information from the medical examiner's office, have said that none of these could've caused internal injuries, let alone death. They've alternately suggested the marks could've resulted from a fall or from the body lying for many hours in one position, with dormant circulation causing blood to rise to the surface of the skin. And what about the blood in the bathroom? Winn has posited variously that it could've come from a shaving accident or from Davidson spitting up blood.

Jacob Davidson, born Jeremy Kendrick, was a popular and highly compensated bartender in Oak Lawn.
Jacob Davidson, born Jeremy Kendrick, was a popular and highly compensated bartender in Oak Lawn.

Meanwhile, in Garden Plains, Kansas, the mortician told Jeremy Kendrick's family he "looked like he'd been beat up" and encouraged them to have a closed-casket funeral. Janice and Bob Kendrick refused, and the mortician did what he could to cover the injuries, especially a long scratch that extended from the side of his cheek down to his neck. Jeremy was buried wearing a high collar to conceal his throat.

The death was ruled unexplained at the scene, Detective Winn says, "because we didn't see any signs of trauma. No gunshot wounds, no stab wounds, no injuries from a blunt object. There was no sign of forced entry. There were some clothes strewn about upstairs but no sign of a major struggle. There was nothing at the death scene to indicate that anyone was in the apartment with him. We waited for word from the medical examiner, and she couldn't find an external cause of death."

Because they discovered no signs of foul play, Salverino and Winn say they decided to postpone further action until final toxicology reports came in from the coroner's office.

Meanwhile, Atrium Apartment manager Doe tried to keep the heat on. She had the names and phone numbers of people who knew Davidson well, and she bugged police to take them. Doe had a contact number for an ex-boyfriend who several witnesses reported seeing with Davidson the night before the screams were heard from 211; he's since relocated to Houston, because he says he doesn't want to be reminded anymore of Davidson's death. She also had the name and number of another former lover who claimed that while the two lived together at the Atrium, Jake had received e-mailed death threats. This ex moved to Fort Worth within days of Jake's body being discovered. The police never took this information from Doe; Detective Winn says he was aware of one former live-in lover of the deceased but hadn't talked to him. And as for trying to locate an individual who may have been the last to see Davidson alive, Winn says, "I can't account for everyone he saw and everything he did before he died."

Sergeant Salverino says that notes kept trickling in from the medical examiner's office hinting at what the final ruling would be--suicide by prescription overdose. As far as the reported e-mail threats against Jake, Salverino says, "There's no bearing. It doesn't matter if a man receives threats if he later dies of an O.D. There's no connection, unless you can convince me that someone can force a grown man to swallow a bottle of pills." The coroner found no abrasions on the esophagus to indicate such a scenario. Police also found no empty prescription bottle.

And what about Doe's contentions that she'd heard whispering inside Davidson's apartment after his screams stopped--something she reported in her 911 call on April 25--and that his apartment was locked by keyless deadbolt for almost 36 hours until, mysteriously on the morning of April 27, the deadbolt had been removed and she was able to enter? There are more explanations offered here by the police--that Doe somehow embellished her original account as she got more media attention, or that she was frightened and confused at the sounds coming from Davidson's apartment and may have imagined the whispering.

Doe, whose story has been consistent these last three months, replies with a bitter chuckle: "That's bullshit."

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