A Killer Identified 46 Years Later
After four decades, Siobhan McGuinness’ killer has been found.
Every few years, the Missoula Police Department would routinely open Siobhan McGuinness’ cold case, to see if there were any new leads they could pursue, in the hopes of giving her family an answer as to who took their five-year-old daughter.
Siobhan disappeared on Tuesday 5th of February 1974. She had been walking to her friend’s home near the railroad tracks in Missoula, Montana when she was abducted. She was reported missing just hours after a man had attempted to molest another five-year-old girl in the same neighbourhood. The man was described as around 20 years old with curly red hair.
Police and 100 volunteers began the search for Siobhan immediately, knocking on doors, checking around the riverbanks and abandoned buildings, but two days later, her body was found. She was discovered in the snow by Interstate 90 in a large drainpipe. The autopsy showed she had been sexually assaulted and then stabbed to death. She had also suffered severe head trauma.
A few days later, the Missoula Reward Fund offered $1,600 (around $8,400 today) for information on Siobhan’s abduction and murder. The reward was never collected, and the case went cold for over 40 years.
This year, advances in technology meant that investigators were able to submit DNA evidence taken from the crime scene back in 1974 to the technology company, Othram, who was able to create a profile of the suspect. The sample was then matched to the suspect’s family members who had already submitted their DNA to a genealogy site.
“I was rather amazed this has happened, but not totally surprised knowing that DNA is an amazing thing,” — Siobhan’s father, Stephen McGuinness
The preserved DNA sample belonged to Richard William Davis from Arkansas who was travelling through Missoula when Siobhan vanished. He worked in various roles, including down the mines in South Dakota, as a missionary on the Sioux Reservation in South Dakota and Nebraska, a security guard in a wine bar in New York, and at a school for the deaf and blind in Arkansas.
He was a drifter who travelled cross-country and carried a folding knife and a handgun on his trips. He also volunteered at the Big Brother programme in Arkansas in the late ’70s and ‘80s.
The married man with four daughters died in 2012 at the age of 70, which made him 32 when he abducted Siobhan. Davis was also linked to an attempted abduction of an eight-year-old girl in Bath, New York where he was living at the time. Investigators believe there may be more crimes that he’s responsible for.
Siobhan’s family established a memorial fund for the Sussex School back in 1974, when their daughter went missing. It was the private school that Siobhan attended, and the contributions went to indigent children who couldn’t afford the school fees.
While there will be no trial or justice served to Richard Davis, the family now has closure to their prolonged suffering.
A permanent memorial with a rooftop sculpture garden is currently being built in Missoula, in memory of Siobhan.