By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times –
HOUSTON — A Dallas-area man has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a 16-year-old girl who was expected to testify at his upcoming trial after accusing him of rape.
Franklin B. Davis, 30, of Irving was charged with capital murder Sunday after confessing to the death of Shania Gray, a police spokesman in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton told the Los Angeles Times. Davis was arrested last year and charged with four counts of sexual assault of a child, the case that involved Gray, who had worked for him as a babysitter, the spokesman said.
Gray was last seen Thursday leaving local Hebron High School. Her parents reported her missing Friday morning, and her body was found Saturday in the nearby Trinity River, according to Officer Jon Stovall, public information officer for the Carrollton Police Department.
According to Stovall and an arrest warrant he provided to the Times, Davis contacted the 16-year-old through Facebook, pretending to be someone else. He then used a pre-paid cellphone to set up a meeting with her at school, the warrant says, and showed up in his car there about 4 p.m.
Davis, who went by the nickname “Wish,” told authorities that the teenager — a successful student and track and field athlete — was surprised to see him but that she got into his car and left with him after he said he wanted to talk about the sexual assault case, Stovall said.
According to investigators, Davis said he drove Gray to the river and shot her twice before she fell into the water, asking one last question: “Why, Wish?”
In response, he approached the girl and stepped on her neck until she stopped breathing, according to the arrest warrant. Within an hour of the meeting at the school, Gray was dead, Stovall said.
Davis was being held Monday at the Dallas County jail on $2 million bond. His attorney did not immediately return calls.
Stovall said that, so far, police believe Davis’ account because “everything he’s told us has matched up with the physical evidence we have.”
A spokeswoman for Gray’s family told the Dallas Morning News that Davis had warned Gray he would kill her if she told anyone that he had sexually assaulted her.
“The trial was coming up in October, and I think he didn’t want her to testify,” Sherry Ramsey said.
Stovall said investigators were aware that Gray’s family thinks she was targeted because she was set to testify.
“That’s what we believe also — that the reason he killed her was that she was set to testify against him,” Stovall said.
But he said no one thought Gray’s life was at risk or that she had been in contact with her alleged attacker before she disappeared.
“I don’t know that there were any alarm bells that anyone knew she was in danger,” he said.