New cold case unit connects two 1990s killings to long-haul truck driver

photo by: Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department via AP

Gary Dion Davis

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Kansas man has been charged with two counts of murder after detectives in a newly formed cold case unit connected him to the deaths of two women nearly three decades ago.

DNA evidence led to the arrest of 52-year-old Gary Dion Davis, Kansas City Police Chief Karl Oakman and Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree said Wednesday. Davis is jailed on a $500,000 bond for two counts of second-degree murder, the Kansas City Star reported.

Davis was a long-haul truck driver in the 1990s. He is accused of killing 26-year-old Christina King, who was found beaten to death behind an abandoned building on Christmas Day in 1996. He also is charged with fatally stabbing Pearl Barnes, whose body was found in a vacant house a month earlier.

Davis does not yet have a listed attorney. Two phone numbers listed for him were no longer in service, and a third had a full mailbox and wasn’t accepting messages on Thursday.

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.

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.


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