Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Killing of Polly Klaas

A Suicide?

Back in California, he looked up some of his old high school friends.  On Oct. 12, 1973, he went to a party at the home of 18-year-old Marlene Voris.  Davis claimed that she was his girlfriend.  The reason for the party was to celebrate Voris' having been accepted into the Navy.  She was said to have been ecstatic about the acceptance and looking forward to a new life in the service.  Perhaps it aroused conflicting feelings for Davis to be around someone who looked forward to being in the military, a system in which he had recently failed.

The party wound down and people left, but Davis told his pals that he had to go back in the house for something.

A few minutes later, a shot rang out.

Voris was dead.  There were no less than seven suicide notes at the scene and the police concluded that the young lady had indeed done away with herself.  Others who knew her claimed that she had been happy that night.  They believe Davis murdered her.  Ruth Baron said, "As far as I'm concerned, Rick held the gun on her and forced her to write those notes.  Then he killed her."

Davis would later claim that Voris shot herself "almost in his presence" and that he had been traumatized by it.

Richard Allen Davis
Richard Allen Davis

A few weeks after that death, Davis was arrested for attempting to pawn various items he had stolen.  He confessed to a string of burglaries in La Honda but claimed he had been motivated, at least sometimes, by hunger. This is not completely unbelievable. With his record, it would be difficult to secure legal employment sufficient to support himself. Davis served six months in the county jail.

Five weeks after his release, on May 13, 1974, he was arrested for another burglary.  At age twenty-one, he was given a prison sentence of six months to fifteen years.  He served a little more than two years.

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