State of Missouri v. Ralph E. Davis

814SW 2d 593 (Mo. Banc 1991)

Ralph E. Davis was executed on April 28, 1999

Case Facts
: On June 10, 1986 Caroline and Company, the employer of Mrs. Susan Davis, reported her missing to the police when she did not report to work. Davis had last been seen on June 9, 1986 when she left work. Evidence indicated that she had also cashed her paycheck that day at the Century State Bank.

On March 7, 1988 deputies of the Boone County Sheriff’s office were notified that a Ford Escort automobile owned by Susan Davis had been found in a storage facility in Jefferson City. Storage facility records indicated that the unit had been rented by Ralph Davis, husband of Susan Davis, on June 10, 1986. The Sheriff’s Department had been contacted after Davis failed to pay the rental on the storage and the company was in the process of reclaiming the storage unit.

During the investigation, sheriff’s deputies discovered that Davis’ had purchased a .12 gauge shotgun on June 9, 1986. In a search of Davis’ business and house officers discovered Susan Davis’ diamond wedding ring from a previous marriage and the .12 gauge shotgun that Davis had purchased on June 9, 1986. Tests later revealed that the shotgun had been fired.

Visual inspection of the vehicle revealed that the driver’s window had been broken and large amounts of dried blood, bone fragments and other forensic evidence were found indicating that someone had been shot inside the car. Evidence indicated that the victim had recently used the drug tetracycline. Mrs. Davis had filled a prescription for the drug on June 9, 1986.

The Police investigation further revealed that Davis had filed for divorce from Susan Davis on June 11, 1986. Davis had gone to Cedar Rapids, Iowa on June 14, 1986 where, with the help of local law enforcement officials, he secured the custody of his two children from Mrs. Davis’ parents. Davis was later awarded custody of his children in a default divorce which ordered Susan Davis to pay child support.

Between June and July 1986 Davis forged three checks on his wife’s personal bank account in the amount of $ 900 and also forged his wife’s signature on a change of beneficiary life insurance form to make himself the beneficiary of the policy.

During the next twenty months Davis consistently lied to police that he did not know where his wife’s car was and that he believed that Mrs. Davis and “run off” to Texas to get a job at the Westinghouse Corporation to be with her alleged lover.

Legal Chronology

6/10 – Susan Davis of Columbia, Missouri disappears

3/7 – Susan Davis’ Ford Escort automobile is found in a storage unit near Jefferson City, Missouri.

3/14 – Davis goes on trial in Boone County, Missouri for the murder of his wife Susan Davis and is found guilty of murder first degree. The jury recommends the death penalty.
4/25 – Davis is sentenced to death for the murder of his wife.
8/31 – Davis files a post –conviction relief motion in the circuit court of Boon County.

7/31 – The Circuit Court of Boone County denies Davis’ post-conviction relief motion.

7/23 – The Missouri Supreme Court affirms the conviction, sentence and the Circuit Court’s denial of Davis’ Post-conviction relief motion.

1/13 – The United States Supreme Court denies Davis’ petition for writ of certiorari.
1/27 – Davis files a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

6/4 – The District court denies Davis’ petition for writ of habeas corpus.

5/22 – The United States court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit denies Davis a certificate of appeal.

5/22 – The United States Supreme Court denies Davis’ petition for writ of certiorari.
5/29 – The Missouri State Supreme Court set April 28, 1999 as the date for the execution of Ralph Davis.