Elaine Louise Davis -- December 1, 1969

Zodiackiller.com Message Board: Other Possible Zodiac Victims: Elaine Louise Davis -- December 1, 1969

By Tom Voigt (Tom_Voigt) (acabb82d.ipt.aol.com - on Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 11:11 am:

(NOTE: This person is listed in a book as a possible victim of Zodiac.)

Body of girl missing since '69 identified
Disappearance from Walnut Creek home

Charlie Goodyear, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

"A girl presumed murdered in 1969 -- and who was buried as a Jane Doe in a Santa Cruz cemetery --has been identified thanks to persistent investigators and advances in forensics.

Last week, authorities exhumed the body of Elaine Louise Davis, 17, and confirmed her identity through dental records. Davis disappeared on Dec. 1, 1969, while baby-sitting her 3-year-old sister at the family's Walnut Creek home.

Police found no evidence of a struggle at the scene. In a field behind her house they did recover a button Davis had been planning to sew onto her coat. Two days later, a motorist discovered the coat on Highway 17 near Santa Cruz.

On Dec. 19, 1969, authorities found the body of a female floating off Light House Point. Investigators mistakenly estimated the age of the victim as 20 to 25 years old. As a result, Walnut Creek police never believed that the victim was Davis.

Last year, Walnut Creek Police Detective Lew Doty was reviewing Davis' case as part of the department's regular examination of old unsolved cases. Doty noticed in the case file a reference to the body found in Santa Cruz as well as a dental X-ray belonging to Davis. He checked with criminalist Paul Holes of the Contra Costa crime lab, who told the detective that methods for estimating the age of a victim were less precise in 1969.

Because Davis' body had been buried in a cemetery for unidentified or impoverished persons, authorities weren't sure they could locate her grave. But with the help of the Santa Cruz coroner's office and a forensic anthropologist, investigators were able to find the correct site last week and exhume the corpse.

"There was a lot of damage to the body," Holes said yesterday. "There is no definitive cause of death and determining that now will be basically an impossibility." But modern forensics may yield additional clues, and police are reviewing the case for leads to follow up.

"Maybe something will get jogged," said Walnut Creek Police Lt. Loren Cattolico. "Does someone know something? In 75 percent of homicides, the victim knows the killer. The house doesn't show any signs of ransacking. The kid she was baby-sitting didn't hear anyone at the door. I think she walked outside with someone willingly and didn't come back."

Police said Davis' body showed some signs of cartilage damage in her neck, indicating that she might have been strangled."

By Sandy (Sandy) (c531918-a.ptbrg1.sfba.home.com - on Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 11:57 am:

Thanks Tom, I have always wondered about the Davis girl. She had my last name, and lived in Walnut Creek where I grew up. So far a lot has pointed in the direction of Santa Cruz and women or girls killed in that area. Sadly, just lately the little Vallejo girls skull was found in Santa Cruz. Another connection, Darlene's ex has lived in Santa Cruz for many years. Spooky!

By Bill Bratton (Willy) (c1465163-a.sttls1.wa.home.com - on Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 11:58 am:

Hmm. A coat with a missing button left on the roadway. Could the Z references to wanting to "see some nice Zodiac buttons" (April 29, 1970 Dragon card, and June 29, 1970 letter) be hints that this was another of his victims? Z's communications are five and seven months after the disappearance. Perhaps he wanted to give the police time to connect him on their own, and then dropped his own clue, out of frustration for getting no public credit yet.

By Alex (Metalex) ( on Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 12:02 pm:

I was living in Los Gatos at the time this happened and I still remember a lot of people thinking it could be Edmund Kemper III or even Herb Mullin since they were both "doing their thing" in an around Santa Cruz at the time. Does anyone know why Graysmith thinks it could be Z who may have killed her since the police departments best guess is possible strangulation?

By Sandy (Sandy) (c531918-a.ptbrg1.sfba.home.com - on Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 12:08 pm:

Maybe the killer "could" be found in the Santa Cruz area, and didn't want the police to start looking there,so he didn't want to brag about that one? You could be right about the button, that would fit into the way he likes to play games!

By Sandy (Sandy) (c531918-a.ptbrg1.sfba.home.com - on Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 12:31 pm:

Zodiac liked to change his MO, I think to play with the police. This could be his first one to be killed by strangulation. He was getting closer to his victims as he did at Lake B. (if that was Z) That is a much slower death,he likes torture, and we know he liked to see the fear in his victims faces.(the flashlight) I think he did a lot of strangulation after that. He claims to be a sexual sadist,I would think that way of killing would fit.

By Aubrey Jackson (Aubrey) (s3-1.bear.com - on Thursday, May 17, 2001 - 10:28 am:

There doesn't seem to be anything in this case that we know of to connect Z to it. Anyone have any reason why Graysmith included it?

By Ed N (Ed_N) (spider-ntc-td084.proxy.aol.com - on Thursday, May 17, 2001 - 04:42 pm:

Aubrey: Graysmith attributed some crimes to Z that either were not crimes (ie, accidental death) or were the work of someone else. Two cases in point:

#14 in Graysmith's Z-tally (Zodiac, p. 309), Marie Antoinette Anstey, was not murdered, but died while on drugs.

#20, Lynda Kanes, was actually murdered by Walter Boyd Williams, known locally as "Willie the Woodcutter," and he was tried and convicted for her murder some fifteen years before Zodiac was published.

In his zeal to attribute every unsolved murder in the Bay Area to Z, Graysmith also included Susan Dye (#47, p. 311). Since he essentially concluded that Allen was Z, then that was an "oops" on his part, because Allen had been in jail for seven months at the time she was murdered. Since Graysmith altered the dates of Allen's incarceration at Atascadero (or was possibly mis- or disinformed), she should not have been included.

In the end, it looks like he didn't research the crimes as well as he should have. Does that answer your question?

By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-41.linkline.com - on Friday, May 18, 2001 - 02:12 am:

I had spoken to the detective in charge of the Elaine Davis case some years ago and he contacted the original detective that had been in charge of the case.

They, unlike some of the other investigators at other stations,were professional,but polite and were interested in any leads they could find.

I had found her old house and noted the canal("water")going through her back yard.They noted the 'water element'too.Of course, she was found in water.I remember praying her remains would be found as we all agreed she, no doubt, was the victim of a murderer-possibly Zodiac.

I can say now, she was probably sitting on her porch smoking(her father was a military man and quite strict so she would hide this habit)and the perp could have followed her to her home as she and her mother were shopping at the outdoor Concord Mall that day and he may have spotted her there.The perp may have walked by the house and asked her for a cigarette and/or light and once he got close to her she was grabbed and abducted- and possibly strangled and dumped in water.Her shoe and other clothing were found by the roadside as given.

The Contra Costa Times did the best and most detailed series of articles on Davis's disappearance from the beginning.Their stories were well writted relative to Zodiac also.

Another girl was murdered on the Diablo(as in devil) Valley College campus around the same time and in the same general area -and there is water nearby.

By Sandy (Sandy) (c531918-a.ptbrg1.sfba.home.com - on Friday, May 18, 2001 - 06:04 pm:

Howard, what was the collage girls name,and the date she was found? While I was living in Walnut "Creek",another very young girl was taken by a man in a blue van, about 1/4 mile from my home. She has never been found, I remember it was a day before Bart started it's first train in Pleasant Hill, the girl wanted to find a short cut to the Bart station. She went to school with my son.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-13.linkline.com - on Sunday, May 20, 2001 - 02:12 am:

Sandy:I was doing research on the Davis murder and that was my main focus. I came across the Diablo Valley College 187 in the Contra Costa Times at the County Library in Pleasant Hill.The murder was that of a young student 3/5/70 and I think she was involved in dancing and her name was Pat King. She had been strangled;(Davis may have been strangled)the college, as you know,is close by Davis's house.Another victim was Cosett Ellison 3/3/70 in the same area. She was later found, according to the detectives I spoke to, with a heat seeking device near the foot of MT Diablo.There was a pickup truck that was seen near her home the day she was abducted.

They did a pretty good job on the stories and on their coverage of Zodiac.I went through all the microfilms of that paper and the Chronicle and made copies, but I lost all of them in a move-along with all my Press Enterprise articles (I had the first to the last including a story about several unsolved murders in the Riverside area that could have been Z's work according to the paper)that I paid $50.00 for-sniff!

You live in N. CA, so you could go there and view the microfilms.

By Sandy (Sandy) (c531918-a.ptbrg1.sfba.home.com - on Sunday, May 20, 2001 - 12:55 pm:

Thanks Howard, I will do that, if I get the news on the unsolved Riverside 187's, I will get copy's for you. I can do it for penny's! No charge to you, you have been a great help to me. Watch the History Chan. at 10:pm tomorrow night. They will be doing codes, I am very sure z 's will be one of them.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-93.linkline.com - on Monday, May 21, 2001 - 02:12 am:

Sandy:I posted some time ago all the dates/references in the S.F. Chronicle to the Zodiac. This will help you to look up Z articles at the County Library as they have a complete set of Chronicles.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (ont-cvx1-61.linkline.com - on Wednesday, May 23, 2001 - 01:31 am:

After thinking about the remarkable turn of events in thr Elaine Davis case(12/1/69) I am tempted once again to think that the Northern CA PD dropped the ball(and their shorts!),as in the Zodiac case when they failed to check out the the '20-25 year old female corpse' floating off Light House Point.

Now that I have time to think -I can truly say that had I been a Walnut CREEK (water!)detective -and I am speaking for a lot of the posters too-I would have immediately inquired about the body and made an appointment to have it checked to see if it was my victim. This would have been just plain common horse sense(or stable thinking!).

So what if the age did not match 'perfectly'-they knew even then that an estimate on age was far from conclusive. She was 'young' and found near the same time as the abduction and this should have been enough for at least an inquiry!

The Davis family should publicly critize such terrible police work .The needless pain the incompetent 60's WCPD caused them is beyond belief-when to their horror -they discover in 2001 their daughter lay buried in a Jane Doe grave since 1969!

I am not saying anything untoward about detective Doty-he is a hero in my estimation!I am certain that even if he is outraged about this gargantuan blunder he dare not speak out.

I would not blame them if they sued those 60's detectives and WCPD for pain and suffering. I know the present staff had nothing to do with the case in '69,but organizations have historically been held accountable for the incompetence of their members.

How do the other posters feel about what I have written? Am I way out of line here or was there an inexcusable lapse in professional judgement that should be held accountable?

I simply will not accept their lame excuses as to why the body was not ID'd at the time.

By Esau (Esau) (proxy2-external.scrmnt1.ca.home.com - on Wednesday, May 23, 2001 - 10:32 pm:

I don't think you're in any way out of line Howard. I was thinking the same thing myself. Maybe police work was done differently back then but I don't think that that would happen now (hopefully not).

By Sandy (Sandy) (1cust49.tnt3.missoula.mt.da.uu.net - on Saturday, May 26, 2001 - 04:23 pm:

I don't want to pop your bubble, but police are people, and people are not perfect. It still happens. Around 1989 or 90,a woman was missing along with her baby daughter. A woman's body was found in northern Calif. She was not ID'd Then a baby's body was found in the water in S.F. When I called the police to tell them that maybe that was the baby who was taken with the mother. I was told no, that baby had darker hair! As it turned out I was right. Of course the whole time, I kept thinking of how much this was like the Kathleen Johns story. Only she didn't throw her baby out the car window,(like we were told z asked her to) and how if she didn't get away, we would have read a story close to this about her and her baby. The husband of this woman was so distraught,he committed suicide. The police thought he did , because he was the killer.The couple had a very happy marriage , go figure? Sadly I think mistakes are made all the time,and will for all time.

By Howard Davis (Howard) (spider-wi081.proxy.aol.com - on Sunday, December 30, 2001 - 01:23 am:

I have always thought that Elaine Davis(12/1/69)of Walnut CREEK(also,she had a canal running through her back yard!) could have been a Zodiac victim.See posts.Detectives told me she was abducted and probably was taken to the Santa Cruz area as some articles belonging to her were found.

When I spoke to them at the time, several years ago, she had not been found.I,like any suspect oriented amature Z researcher ,wondered if my guy had ever been to Santa CruZ or could be placed there.

Well,over the years since my conversations with the Walnut Creek detectives I have not obtained any evidence.What I just discovered ,much to my great surprise ,while reading his first parole hearing in 1978, is found on page 49":BOARD MEMBER SIDES:And your residential plans really haven't formulated.INMATE DAVIS:Well,if I can be in a position so I can finish my education,that's where I would live.I'd LIVE NEAR SANTA CRUZ or wherever I could."(EMP mine)