BLADENSBURG — Today marks the one-year anniversary of the murder of Jean Davis, but she is not far from the hearts and minds of those who knew her and loved her.
Featuring a map, image gallery, stories and related videos to the crime wave that struck Southeastern Knox County from 2009 to early 2010.
Bob Pelfrey, pastor of the Community Christian Fellowship was one who knew her well and worked closely with her over the years.
“I have known Jean myself for 40 years as have many in the church,” he said. “It’s like we’re coping with it, especially this time of year. Of course, we are disappointed that there’s been no closure. It just seems like the longer it goes the less likelihood there is of it being resolved.
“Just this morning I had breakfast with one of our people. Now Jean kept llamas and this lady made a scarf from some of the wool from those llamas to give to the church. This is the kind of things we see. And a couple of weeks ago we planted a tree in Jean’s memory.
“We still talk about her and what she would have been involved in this time of year. But we still wish there was more closure. But it seems like the times are really getting violent even in rural areas like this.
“For the most part a lot of the fear has subsided here. Initially people were locking their doors and keeping weapons at the ready. But as time goes on they start to get a little lax. Then this recent thing in Mount Vernon, it just seems very sad that a friendly and open place like Mount Vernon and even Knox County has to have things like this happen.”
Evalyn Likins has been a member of Community Christian Fellowship for 20 years and had known Davis 10 years prior.
“She was a close neighbor and friend,” Likins said. “She was a blessing in our lives. She was the kind of neighbor that would just stop by and sit down on the deck and have a glass of iced tea and share recipes. She was very involved in the community. Jean lived here all her life. She knew everybody and where they lived and about their families.
“She was just a really interesting person. She lived with her mother until her mother died and then she lived alone on her farm.”
Likins said Davis was a very hard worker and was able to work the farm by herself.
“She was a very hard worker,” Likins said. “She could do anything on the farm that a man could do. She raised llamas and sheep. The llamas came after the sheep because the llamas helped protect the sheep.
In speaking of her friends, Likins said Davis was a very independent person with a kind heart.
“She loved animals and was just a very ambitious and energetic person. She had a lot of machinery and she could take care of it herself. Sometimes she had more to talk about to my husband than she did with me,” Likins said.
“She loved to read and was into just about everything. She took classes in making wooden bowls and spoons and did some very nice work.
“I really miss her. I tell my husband that sometimes I can still hear her. She was kind of a loud person and energetic and I can still hear her drive up in her 4-wheeler and say ‘Hello there,’ real loud. And I miss that. Everybody loved her. She had her own opinions about things but she wasn’t abrasive. She really cared about people. ... She worked with the youth groups at the church and cared a lot about young people.”
Davis was very involved with her church. Likins thinks her not being there has had a very large effect on the church.
“People still want to do things in her memory,” she said. “And that shows just how much people loved her and still miss her. One of the men had T-shirts designed in her memory. It has a lot of things people remembered about her. It had sheep on it and different things. And about a month ago a really lovely tree was planted in front of our church in her memory.”
During late 2009 there was a rash of burglaries and break-ins in the Bladensburg area in addition to Davis’ killing. Likins agreed with Pelfrey that a lot of the fear from that time had subsided a bit.
“I think it has died down,” she said. “We don’t feel the tension that we did. We still try to be careful. It might be one of those things that comes and goes. And I hope it’s gone.”
Irma Eash remembers Davis as a very genuine and caring person.
“If she saw anybody in need she was not going to let that go,” Eash said. “She always helped out people in need and she a heart for everyone. She was one of those few who would always notice and see and be right there for anyone.
“She was one of those who was not scared to get her hands dirty. She had some fire under her. She was determined she could figure this out and she could do it and she was going to make it happen. And she did. She had a zeal and a fire about her. She didn’t let anything stop her. She was always there to get things done.”
Eash said the loss of her friend has profoundly affected her life. A year has done nothing to erase the memory of what Davis meant to her.
“Sometimes I will sit in church and think, ‘If only Jean were here. Then it would get done.’ I was in charge of a lot of different things and all I needed to do was tell her something needed done and she would say, ‘OK, when do you want to get together?’ She was always there to back you up and help you. It has definitely affected my life that she is not here now.”
Davis’ impact on people has been lifelong in many cases. Linda Dix knew her as long as anyone.
“From the time she was born,” Dix said. “I remember when she was born. She was about the best friend that anybody could ever have. She was just such a good friend.
“I was a widow for a while and she spent just lots and lots of hours with me. She was just somebody you knew you could talk to and you knew she would hear you out. You knew what you told her wouldn’t go any farther and you knew she wouldn’t be judgmental. I would say that she was someone who just lived her faith every day. She was always a step ahead of you all the time.”
Dix felt that in the intervening year people in the area had lost a little bit of their vigilance but were still aware of what had happened.
“That was a real hard blow for a lot of people,” said Dix. “She didn’t have a lot of close family around here so she had friends just everywhere.
“We remember what happened and haven’t really let down our guard that much,” she said. “It hasn’t left us.”
Davis was murdered Dec. 20, 2009, outside of her home on Dennis Church Road. Her 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche pickup truck was recovered in a residential neighborhood in Newark the next day.
The case is still open and under investigation. A reward, up to $1,000, is being offered by the Licking County Crime Stoppers. In addition, the Knox County Farm Bureau is offering up to $2,500 for information that leads to an arrest in Davis’ murder.
Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to contact Licking County Crime Stoppers at 740-349-6888 or toll free at 888-488-9058; or the Knox County Sheriff’s Office detective division at 393-6800.