MOUNT VERNON — Fifty-four-year-old Jean Davis lived her entire life in the Bladensburg area, until her death this past Sunday. Found shot to death outside her back door, those who knew this Sunday school teacher and retired Columbia Gas worker can think of no reason someone would want to harm her.
“When you look at Jean’s life — her goodness and kindness, and then at the circumstances of her death, those two things are as opposite as they can possibly be,” Bob Palfrey, pastor of Community Christian Fellowship, said, still reeling from the blow he and his congregation suffered.
“It’s been a shock for everybody,” said Davis’ friend, Maxine Smith, who attended church with Davis for many years. “I’ve known her since we were young.”
“Everybody is so numb, that we’re trying to put together the pieces,” Palfrey said. “Not just the congregation, but the community.”
Palfrey and Smith described Davis as an independent, fun-loving person who would go out of her way to help people.
“Church was important to her, and she loved working with the kids,” Smith said.
“She worked with the youth all through the years,” Palfrey said.
Smith said Davis raised sheep and llamas, enjoyed riding her motorcycle, and had recently discovered a talent for woodworking.
“She was a very good lady,” said Don Rine, who lived near Davis for many years.
“She was raised there in that house,” Rine said of the place where Davis lived, and died.
Having never married or had children, a sister in Florida was Davis’ closest family. Her friends said their prayers are with Davis’ younger sister, who arrived in Ohio on Monday.
According to those who knew her, Davis was devoted to her family, her church and her farm.
“She had a heart that was just gigantic,” said Palfrey. “She was a very loving person and a very giving person who was constantly helping people.”
Davis died of a gunshot wound to the head Sunday morning outside her home on Dennis Church Road.
“An X-ray performed as part of the autopsy confirmed there was a gunshot wound to her head,” Knox County Coroner Jennifer Ogle said Monday morning.
The autopsy was performed at the Licking County Coroner’s Office.
Knox County Sheriff David Barber said Davis’ pickup truck, which had been taken from her home when she was killed, was recovered in Licking County.
“No arrests have been made yet,” Barber said late Monday evening.
“The recovery of the truck is an important development,” Barber said, adding that sheriff’s office detectives are still hoping to speak with anyone who has any information relevant to the investigation into Davis’ murder.
Rine and others in the community said they would like to see the case resolved as soon as possible.
“It was a coward who would do this,” he said, wondering aloud who would attack a woman alone on her way to church.
Palfrey said he hopes people will concentrate on remembering Davis and the life she led, and not nurse their anger.
“It is easy to react angrily because someone you love was taken from you in a violent manner,” he said. “But Jean’s life speaks for itself, and her deeds will follow after her.”
Barber said the resources of the sheriff’s office, the Knox County Coroner’s office, and the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation are now focused on finding Davis’ killer.
Palfrey said he hopes the case is solved soon for the sake of all involved.
“It was a horrible thing,” he said. “But what we want more than anything now is closure.”