The Reluctant Witness

Ron Davis' wife disappeared 13 months ago. So why isn't he telling police everything they want to know?

The 54-year-old Davis declined multiple requests for an interview but provided a brief letter and, just before press time, some written comments. He says he has been helpful to police, "and I do not believe that the DPD is taking the position that I have been uncooperative."

Declining the interview, he wrote, "It is obvious that your article will be one-sided, biased, full of conjecture, speculation and designed to entertain the public at my family's expense." He went on to accuse the Dallas Observer of having "an unhealthy history and fascination with African-American men and will do anything to create a negative story about them."

In contrast, Davis' two college-aged children, as well as other relatives, friends and neighbors, say they are grateful for publicity and concerned that the Dallas media have shown little interest in the disappearance until now. The story they tell is of a shy, selfless woman breaking free of a marriage to a difficult, controlling man, a sad mystery set against a backdrop of marital strife. Some talked of how Sharon Davis gave them warnings and revealed her fears during her last days in the couple's home, while others described chilling threats that they reported to police after Sharon was gone.

From top: Relatives describe Sharon Davis as shy, sweet and short on self-confidence; Ron Davis in an undated snapshot; Ronnie Davis put up this "missing" poster in his neighborhood in the weeks after his mother disappeared; Ron Davis, shown here in a mug shot taken in mid-March.
From top: Relatives describe Sharon Davis as shy, sweet and short on self-confidence; Ron Davis in an undated snapshot; Ronnie Davis put up this "missing" poster in his neighborhood in the weeks after his mother disappeared; Ron Davis, shown here in a mug shot taken in mid-March.
Ronnie Davis, 21, gave police a statement last September that led to an armed assault charge against his father, Ron Davis. The felony charge was no-billed by a grand jury in April.
Mark Graham
Ronnie Davis, 21, gave police a statement last September that led to an armed assault charge against his father, Ron Davis. The felony charge was no-billed by a grand jury in April.

They have their theories, as does Ron Davis. His most recent casts his wife in unflattering terms. "The most logical explanation for her not contacting our children is that she is not taking her daily medication," he wrote in a letter to the Observer.

Sergeant Nichols says Davis' suggestion doesn't jibe with what she and two case investigators know to be Sharon Davis' medical history. They say there is no evidence of daily medication use, and none reported by anyone when they began their investigation last year.

Sharon had been going to a psychological counselor, several relatives say, but the only psychiatric pills anyone can recall was a doctor's prescription for an anti-anxiety drug some years ago.

Davis' theory also doesn't sit well with his youngest daughter, Autumn, a 19-year-old UTA student who is still living in her father's home. "He's trying to portray her to be a nut or something, and it's not working for me. I don't know if other people are buying it," the daughter says.

In searching for hard evidence leading either to Sharon Davis or a crime, Nichols says, police have hit only brick walls from the time Ron Davis, at what his son and daughter say was their urging, called in the missing persons report about 24 hours after she was last seen.

Autumn, who police say was the last known person to see Sharon Davis, says her mother drove her in her 1998 Mercury minivan to a DART bus stop in the Redbird area about 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 13. The daughter, who was heading to a summer job downtown, says she watched as her mother, who was dressed in a light-green nightgown and jogging pants, her hair in curlers, drove off. It was less than two miles back to the Davis house, where presumably Sharon would have returned to get ready for work.

She had a training session to attend that morning at Stemmons Elementary, in the Dallas Independent School District, where she had taught third grade the previous year and was slated to begin teaching sixth grade when classes resumed in the fall. But she never made it to the school.

Five days after she disappeared, Dallas police found Sharon's minivan in the parking lot of Bally Total Fitness near the Southwest Center Mall, about a mile from the Davis home. It contained no discernible fingerprints, and a window was broken, suggesting the possibility of foul play and of someone's attempts to cover their tracks, police say. Bally employees told investigators they first noticed the van about midnight on the day Sharon disappeared. Records at the gym, where Sharon was a member, showed she had not been there since the first week of June, about a week before she vanished, investigators say.

It wasn't until nearly three weeks later, on July 3, that Ron Davis talked face to face with police, although they say they tried several times earlier to schedule an interview. "We sat outside for two and half hours before he let us in," Nichols says, describing the first time police were able to talk to Davis at length. Davis didn't answer the door at first, but neighbors told them they had seen him come home, so the investigators parked their car and waited until he let them in, Nichols says. "One of the first things he asked us was, 'Am I a suspect?'" she says. She recalls telling him, "No, this is a missing persons case."

Davis, who ran a tape recorder throughout the conversation, says he let the three detectives "examine every room in my home."

Autumn, who says she has become increasingly skeptical over the past year of what she's heard from her dad, says her father's schedule was the only thing that struck her as unusual the morning Sharon disappeared. "My mom told me the night before, she told me to move the car because he was supposed to have a breakfast meeting in the morning," she says. "I really didn't understand, because I usually get up at 6:30." That morning when she got up, she says, her father was already gone.

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