Local News

Investigators Probe Break-Ins as Clues in Bragtown Killing

Posted October 3, 2007 7:32 p.m. EDT
Updated October 4, 2007 12:46 a.m. EDT

— Durham County investigators are looking at a series of burglaries to see if they could be connected to the stabbing death of an 89-year-old Bragtown man who was found dead inside his house a week ago.

Police have investigated at least eight break-ins since last Tuesday in the same neighborhood where family members found Charles Forest Davis stabbed to death at 2913 Nellowood St.

Each break-in occurred during the day, with most of the entries through a back door or window, police said.

"That could play into our investigation," said Lt. Stan Harris with the Durham County Sheriff's Office. "We have been in touch with Durham police, who've given us good information we're following up on."

Although detectives won't say if robbery was the motive behind Davis' slaying, they said whoever went into the house "ransacked it."

Police said they think two teenagers might be behind some of the break-ins, and sheriff's investigators said they have not ruled out teenagers as possible suspects in Davis' death.

"The teenage male theme is recurrent," Harris said. "We're taking leads, following up and trying to put faces with names."

Sheriff's detectives have been searching for two people since Davis was found Sept. 26. According to a search warrant made public Wednesday, they searched the home Sept. 28 of a person of interest in the case.

A confidential informant told authorities they saw a man driving a white 1993 Buick Century that matched the description of Davis' missing car, on the night of Sept. 26, about an hour before Davis' body was discovered.

The next day, a sheriff's deputy on routine patrol spotted the car, briefly chased it and saw the person of interest flee from it, according to the warrant.

Investigators, in the warrant, said blood stains on and inside the Buick Century indicated a transfer of evidence from Davis' home to the car and to the occupants of the car. Investigators seized a pair of pants from the person of interest's home, the warrant showed, but it was unclear why.

Durham County District Attorney David Saacks, who met with investigators about the case Wednesday, said investigators are still looking at several persons of interest.

As for neighbors who live in the Bragtown area, they said Wednesday there is a sense of unease about the situation that won't be lifted until authorities arrest a suspect.

"I feel pretty bad about all this," Davis' neighbor, Emerson Wilson, said. "All the stuff that's happening lately – all of us need to be on the watch out now."

Davis' funeral is planned for noon Thursday at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, where he was a deacon and church member for more than 50 years.