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A year after body found, still no arrests in Davis case
Adam Ray Davis Web
Adam Ray Davis - photo by C-I file photo


Almost exactly a year ago, on March 8, 2017, a hand-written set of GPS coordinates led Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) deputies to a shallow grave in Lee County. There, they found the body of Adam Ray Davis, 35, who had been missing since Dec. 29, 2016.

Two days later, and just several hours after holding a press conference about the case, Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews declared the case had turned into a murder investigation.

In the year since, nothing further has been made public about the case, and no arrests have been made.

Here is what the sheriff made publicly known about Adam Davis’ murder after deputies recovered his body and an autopsy performed:

• Davis’ family last saw him Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. The family initially contacted the Bethune Police Department; county deputies were alerted Davis was missing four days later, after he failed to show up for his daughter’s birthday.

• Someone anonymously mailed an envelope to then KCSO Chief Deputy Marvin Brown on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Inside the envelope, there was a small piece of paper. The only thing on the paper was the hand-written, in pencil, set of GPS coordinates. Those coordinates came back to an area off Post Road in Lee County, which can be accessed from the north via S.C. 341 or from the south from Kelly Bridge Road.

• The KCSO determined the coordinates might be related to the Davis case because it was the only case for which deputies asked for tips in that area.

• KCSO investigators spent time searching a large area around the coordinates. After finding a “suspicious” spot that had been disturbed in a wooded area, the KCSO asked for assistance by a SLED-recommended cadaver dog based out of Greenville. It hit on the exact spot investigators had found.

• A cursory examination revealed a human body was buried there.

• KCSD and Lee County deputies cordoned off the area and remained overnight until a SLED forensic team arrived.

• After recovering the body, two deputies spoke with Davis’ family, who described him as wearing the same clothing the day they last saw him as was found on the recovered body.

• Shortly after a press conference on Friday, March 10, 2017, describing the above information, Matthews alerted the media that while there had been no visible wounds on Davis’ body when it was first recovered, preliminary autopsy findings led to the decision to treat the case as a murder investigation.

What the sheriff did not and has yet to disclose are the autopsy’s actual findings leading to the decision to treat the case as a murder investigation, or where the envelope’s stamp was cancelled.

Thursday, Matthews said he still cannot divulge any more information about the case.

Kershaw County Coroner David West has  stated, throughout the same time period, the cause of Davis’ death was “homicide,” but has provided no further information.

Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson also said he cannot speak directly to the Davis case because doing so would violate Rule 3.6 of the S.C. Rules of Professional Conduct and because the case is considered an active investigation.

Johnson did say that, in general, “the decision as to whether or not to seek an arrest warrant against an individual rests with the discretion of the law enforcement officer or agency.”

However, he also said, while a law enforcement officer is not required to seek the advice or consent of the solicitor’s office, his office “offers early legal assistance to all law enforcement agencies.” By this, Johnson explained, a prosecutor is “on-call” 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide a legal opinion about probable cause.

“If a law enforcement officer asks a 5th Circuit assistant solicitor to review a case, that assistant solicitor will make an independent determination regarding this office’s legal opinion as to probable cause,” Johnson said. “Probable cause is a substantial and objective belief that the person to be arrested committed the alleged offense. No two cases are the same and justice demands that each case and defendant be evaluated independently. The determination of probable cause is the result of careful consideration of the facts and circumstances surrounding each individual case.”

Saturday, more than a year after his body was discovered, the Davis’ family plans to hold a memorial in the park beside the Bethune Woman’s Club, at 4 p.m.

Matthews said his office and Johnson’s office have kept Davis’ family up to date on the case, including its current status.

“They have been in our office numerous times,” Matthew said, adding, “We have received numerous leads and continue to get leads. This is the most investigated case we’ve had since I became sheriff.”