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Davis case is now murder investigation

Posted: March 10, 2017 10:21 a.m.
Updated: March 10, 2017 10:20 a.m.
Google Maps/

The general vicinity of where GPS coordinates led Kershaw County investigators to locate the shallow grave in Lee County where Adam Ray Davis was buried. S.C. 341 starts at the top left of the image and continues southward in the bottom center. Post Road -- where the grave was found -- is the road moving east and then south between S.C. 341 and Kelly Bridge Road.

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Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews just released a statement saying that, based on preliminary autopsy information on Adam Ray Davis, 30, this case is now a murder investigation.

A set of hand-written GPS coordinates led Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) investigators -- along with Lee County deputies and S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agents -- to recover Davis' body. The Bethune man had been  missing since Dec. 29.

Acting on the anonymous tip delivered by U.S. Mail to KCSO headquarters on Wednesday, law enforcement officers found the Davis's body in a shallow grave in Lee County.

During a press conference Friday morning, Sheriff Jim Matthews said Davis’ family last saw him Dec. 29. They alerted deputies he was missing about four days later, after he failed to show up for his daughter’s birthday.

“We have worked every lead, searched different parts of the county, but didn’t get anywhere until we got this tip on Wednesday,” Matthews said.

He said the GPS coordinates were hand-written on a small piece of paper inside an envelope addressed to his chief deputy, Marvin Brown. They came back to an area just off Post Road in Lee County which, in turn, can be accessed from the north from S.C. 341 or the south from Kelly Bridge Road.

“We thought this (Davis being missing) was the only thing this could be about because it was the only case where we were asking for tips like this and it wasn’t far from Bethune,” Matthew said.

He said KCSO investigators spent some time searching a large area around the GPS coordinates.

“The coordinates didn’t come back to exactly where we thought,” he said, further explaining that, depending on what device was being used, different investigators ended up at different spots.

In anticipation of finding Davis, the KSCO contacted the owner of a cadaver dog SLED recommends in Greenville. Investigators had already found a “suspicious” area that had been disturbed in the woods.

“We didn’t show him the exact spot we had found, so he had the dog search all around the area and alerted to that spot,” Matthews said.

The sheriff said a cursory examination revealed that a human body was buried there.

KCSO and Lee County deputies cordoned off the area immediately around the site and remained overnight until Thursday morning when a SLED forensic team arrived to process the scene.

“They were very methodical,” Matthews said. “They searched the area and uncovered the body, which was identified as Mr. Davis.”

Matthews said after the body was recovered, he and two deputies spoke to Davis’ family and asked him about what he was wearing the night he went missing.

“What they described was the way the body was clothed. The fact that he was buried in a shallow grave gives us some concern,” he said, but added that investigators do not yet know exactly what happened. “The body wasn’t in real bad condition; it will be sufficient for the autopsy to come up with a cause of death.”

Matthews said there were no visible wounds on Davis’ body when it was removed from the shallow grave.

“Getting a (tip) like that is helpful, but it is highly unusual,” Matthews said of receiving the GSP coordinates; he declined to indicate where the envelope’s stamp was cancelled. “The family just wanted to find their son … this is giving them some closure. Somebody put the body there and we really don’t know where the tip came from, but we’re grateful. He had a family who loved him and had children.”

The sheriff said someone who knew the area “would not have had much trouble” driving to within 30 to 40 yards of the gravesite in the woods.

The C-I will have more on this story as it develops.

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