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A long-haul trucker from Kansas has been charged with two counts of murder after detectives in a newly formed cold case unit connected him to the brutal deaths of two women in the 1990s.
At a press conference this week, Kansas City Police Chief Karl Oakman said it was likely that Gary Dion Davis, 52, has ‘killed more.’ While Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree said Davis was positively linked to the cases through DNA evidence.
Davis is accused of killing 26-year-old Christina King in 1998, who was found beaten to death behind an abandoned building on Christmas Day.
He also is charged with fatally stabbing Pearl Barnes, whose body was found in a vacant house in November 1996. Barnes also went by the name Sameemah Mussawir after converting to Islam in 1974. She was survived by two children.
The circumstances behind the deaths are still being investigated, but police said they do not believe that Davis knew either of the women. Detectives are trying to determine if Davis could be responsible for other crimes.
This booking photo provided by Kansas City, Kan., Police Department shows Gary Dion Davis who was arrested for two cold case murders from the 1990s
Pearl Barnes also went by the name Sameemah Mussawir after converting to Islam in 1974. She was survived by two children
Christina King was found beaten to death in an abandoned building on Christmas Day in 1998
Investigators are looking into the possibility that Davis killed others in different parts of the country thanks to his job as a long-haul trucker.
In 2021, King’s daughter, April Parks, told Fox Kansas City that she was outraged at the lack of progress that was made in her mother’s case.
‘Who did it? Why? How could they do that to such a young person? She was only 26. And like, her autopsy there were so many injuries and so many abrasions and bruises. I just don’t understand what she could have done that bad to deserve that,’ Parks said.
In the wake of Davis’ arrest, Barnes’ niece said that she still couldn’t comprehend why anybody would want to harm her aunt.
‘I don’t even know why he came across her path. My aunt sewed, she had a transportation business running people up to Chillicothe correctional, she worked as an SRS driver, she had a daycare, she sold dinners, she sold bean pies, she was involved in her family lives, she did it all,’ the niece told KSHB.
Chief Oakman said during Wednesday’s press conference that the suspect lived ‘his normal life like nothing happened.’
In the initial investigation into Barnes’ murder, detectives linked her death to three other homicides, the July 1996 killing of Rose Calvin, 39, and the November killings of Norma Gray, 36, and Jeanette Holiday, 35.
Detective Rick Pilgrim told the media at the time that the suspect police were looking for was likely a black male who was a casual acquaintance of the victims. The four aforementioned victims were all black. Christina King was white.
In the wake of Davis’ arrest, Barnes’ niece said that she still couldn’t comprehend why anybody would want to harm her aunt
All four were referred to as ‘street people’ who suffered with drug problems, Pilgrim said.
They believed that the suspect had served time in prison, possibly for sexually based offenses. Pilgrim said at the time that the FBI were involved in the hunt.
They added he likely lived on the north side of the city, the vicinity where the victims had been found. Records show that Davis lived on the north side of Kansas City for over 40 years between 1970 and 2022.
One woman, who police believed was attacked by the same man, survived after being stabbed by him.
A report from the time noted: ‘History shows it is rare for a black man to be a serial killer.’
‘The majority of serial killers are white males, but it is not unheard of for one to be black male,’ Detective Phil Miller told the Associated Press in 1996.
Davis is jailed on a $500,000 bond for two counts of second-degree murder. Davis does not yet have a listed attorney.
The Kansas City Kansas Police Department’s cold case unit began operation in January 2022 and consists of three full-time detectives.
Oakman said the department has ‘a lot of unsolved cases’ and already had identified suspects in 11 homicide cases.
‘So, it may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. In fact, it may not be this year. But there’s gonna be a time,’ Oakman said. ‘You may be in a drive-thru line. You may be at the grocery store. We’re gonna eventually get you.’
Authorities also announced that two other unrelated cases were recently solved.
A 66-year-old inmate was charged in May after he confessed to killing 16-year-old Dion Estell, who was found shot to death in a creek bed in July 1997. The inmate, who was convicted of a 1998 killing and is now in hospice care, confessed to cold case detectives because he wanted closure for Estell’s family.
The oldest case cleared involved the death of an hours-old baby girl found in a dumpster behind an apartment complex in November 1976. DNA evidence led detectives to the mother of the child in 2022.
The woman accused her grandmother of taking the baby away shortly after she gave birth. The grandmother, who has since died, was identified as the primary suspect.