Theone Lindgren Davis (Jan 8, 1907 – Aug 5, 1971) was found beaten, strangled, and shot dead inside her home at 2975 Saturn Street, Huntington Park, Los Angeles, California.
Nobody was ever arrested or convicted in her murder. It remains unsolved. But there is a chance with DNA.
I have not found a lot of information online. What I found does not answer my questions. This post is therefore more like a brainstorming session than a case description.
It isn’t clear in what the order the assault happened as strangulation alone is usually enough to kill someone. It feels as if the shot in the back of her head was to secure that indeed, she was dead.
How many times was she shot? Was that weapon ever found? How was she strangled? Manually or with an object? Was that object found at the crime scene?
According to the OCR, the beating was so severe that, Theone Lindgren Davis’ rips were broken and her spleen was ruptured. Do we know the beating was manually and not for example with a baseball bat or a piece of furniture? The strangulation crushed her larynx. There were no signs of sexual assault.
Whoever killed her left a yellow cloth over her face. If that cloth has been preserved it must be tested with the M-Vac for DNA. I wonder what kind of cloth that was and whether the had a significant meaning. Did it come from somewhere in the house? It does tell me one thing: the attack was personal and the attacker may even have loved Theone. Covering the face of the victim is usually indicative of depersonalizing to distance yourself while you collect your faculties to calculate your next move.
The OCR reported that Paul Mondry of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department had re-submitted evidence to the serologist. This included tissue found under Davis’ fingernails, parts of the bloody carpet, and a pair of blood-stained men’s underwear (see below) found in the toilet. The paper mentioned that results are expected within the next few months. However, that OCR article was from Aug 2016. I have not seen anything in the public domain about these test results.
Theone’s granddaughter Janelle hopes that when we test everything for DNA with modern technology we will find profiles that might exonerate her grandfather. It may not as he touched items from the crime scene. When a person in a relationship is found dead the first one police talk to is their partner. And they did.
The OCR mentioned that police always suspected Ted to be the killer. Why?
- He was Theone’s partner so he had the opportunity.
- He took a lie detector test. It didn’t clear him. I quote: he was found to “have guilty knowledge as to the circumstances surrounding the death of his wife.” However, there is no hard evidence to tie Ted to the murder. He passed away in 1999. Also, guilty knowledge need not mean he was the killer. He may have had a suspicion who the real killer was and was protecting someone.
- Weird behavior at the crime scene, see below.
Ted met Theone at Los Angeles’ Criterion Theatre. She worked in the ticket booth. Theone also worked as a radio jingle singer, most notably for Bubble Up soda. They married in 1933. Ted worked for Union Oil but I do not know in what position. Their daughter Linda, Janelle’s mom, died in 2015.
Ted later worked in real estate and became the President of the Huntington Park Kiwanis Club and Chamber of Commerce. Apparently Ted was critical of people’s morals and behaviors (e.g. drinking, gambling, affairs, etc.). There is speculation that Theone was killed to warn Ted? Warn Ted about what?
What would Ted’s motive be to kill his wife? Were they married under a prenuptial agreement? What was their financial situation? Who inherited from Theone?
Was Ted strong enough to deliver such a severe beating and strangulation? Did he have blood on him or his clothes when police arrived? Did he have a gun and was it the same caliber that was used to kill Theone?
The last evening
To firm up the timeline we need to know more about Theone’s time of death. I have not found a time of death.
On Aug. 5, 1971, Ted and Theone were to host bridge night. They played bridge with some city leaders, they rotated houses, and that evening it was the Davis’ turn. So who was going to be there?
That day, around noon, Theone called Ted at work. She asked him to pick up Chanel No 22 (perfume) before he came home. According to witnesses, Theone was active in the yard around 245pm. They saw her watering plants. Ted came home around 545pm. That’s what he told police.
He said he saw two newspapers in the yard. He thought that was strange as his wife always bring in the paper. We need to know the delivery times of the paper route to see if this has any significance. If Theone was indeed outside at 245pm she could have brought in the papers unless she didn’t notice them. Is that possible? If the witnesses are mistaken, Theone’s time of death might be earlier in the day. At what time did Ted leave to house to go to work? Can we prove he was there the whole day?
Finding the body
Ted went inside, called for his wife, and got no answer. He found her on the floor of their bedroom, murdered. Theone was lying on her back with her face covered by a cloth. Again, the order of the assault matters. If she was shot in the back of the head I expect her to be on her stomach or on her side. Being on her back feels as if someone rolled her over.
Ted called police and a family doctor. Those calls were probably traced and time logged. They could place the time that he claimed to return home in better perspective. Was that phone in the bedroom or not? Did he ran outside to call his neighbors? How long until police arrived?
According to the papers, Ted went back to the bedroom (so the phone was elsewhere?) and then “rubbed ice on his wife’s face.” Why? To revive her for when she was only unconscious? If he did rub ice on her face, he probably removed the yellow cloth from her face so his touch DNA is on that cloth.
Did he had to get out of the bedroom again to get ice? Did they have a mini-fridge in the bedroom? If you call the police to report a murder, why do you disturb that body? Is this stress behavior?
When police saw the gunshot wound they asked him if he had a gun. He said no but they found a gun in a cookie jar in the kitchen. However, it had not been fired. Had Ted just forgotten about that gun? When did he get it? Why? What caliber was his gun?
If Theone had surprised a burglar (I doubt that as everything feels so personal for this to be the act of an opportunist-robber) then we need to find out if anything was stolen or misplaced, etc. According to the papers, the house was not burglarized. The only obviously misplaced items, as I understand it, are some coins. I will get back to this.
There were no overt signs of a struggle, no forced entry I assume, but the bed was not positioned straight. How much was it off? Was the old imprint of the frame visible in the carpet? Was it easy to move the bed when you just bump into it?
Police found blood on the kitchen doorknob leading to the backyard patio. So we need to check that doorknob! Where does the backyard lead to, houses, a park, highway?
Police found a pair of men’s underwear in the toilet. It matches the underwear found in the bedroom’s drawers so I think it is safe to say it matches the kind of underwear that Ted used. There was blood on the underwear found in the toilet. Now ask yourself, how did the blood get there and why try to flush underwear through the toilet?
To start with the latter, you know you clog up the toilet causing all sorts of issues. It doesn’t sound like something you would do. Maybe someone tried to wash blood off the underwear? More obvious would be to use the sink if you were going to take your time to wash off the blood anyway. Did the killer just needed to dry their hands and not seeing anything else useful, they grabbed underwear? So there were no towels in the master bathroom?
Was there blood on the underwear drawer? Were any of the other drawers disturbed or had signs of blood on them? If not, how did the killer know which drawer to open to find underwear? Is this something the ordinary robber would do when a robbery goes bad? Would they not try to grab as much items as possible and quickly leave the house?
Who’s blood was on the underwear? Does the DNA of the underwear match the tissue found underneath Theone’s fingernails and the blood from the kitchen doorknob?
These tests could show that more people were in the house but it does not exonerate Ted. He still could have fired the gun. Were his hands tested for gunpowder residue? How did he explain rubbing ice on her face and saying he did not have a gun when one was found in the kitchen? Ted eventually remarried and moved away to settled down in Santa Barbara. He died at the age of 89.
I tried to find more information about Ted Davis. I searched under “Ted Davis” and “Theodore Davis” and then added his year of death, subtracted his age, and then his year of birth. I found a “Herman Theodore Davis” whose date of birth, death, and last location could match. Born Jan 20, 1910, passed away Sep 11, 1999, so he was 89 when he died. He is buried at the Santa Barbara cemetery. I am not sure this is the same man though.
The OCR mentioned that what was most obviously misplaced was a small, plastic, purple piggy bank. It was found on the bed in the guest room but OCR doesn’t say where its original spot was in the house. I hope that piggy bank was dusted for prints. How much money was inside? The piggy bank was empty except for four pennies. Two were mentioned to be on the floor so I can only assume that the other two were on the bed. The article doesn’t say so.
Are we sure those four pennies came from the piggy bank? Were there only pennies in the piggy bank or all kinds of coins? What are the chances that the pennies were left there by the killer/robber who wasn’t aware they lost them (small change in pant pockets, for example). Were those coins dusted for prints?
If you have any information about the Theone Lindgren Davis case please contact the LAPD at 1(877-275-5273). You can submit an anonymous tip at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).
Note: All pictures used with the family’s permission. You can find more on their Facebook page.
Rest in peace, Theone Lindgren Davis.