Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Addicted to Luxury: The Pampered Killer

Home Alone

Among the most frightening ideas for women who live alone is that someone might enter their houses, exploit their vulnerabilities, and hurt even kill them.  In part, this fear contributes to their vulnerability, because some predators who know just how frightened they are specifically target them.  Norma Davis, an active 87-year-old, learned this about three weeks before Dorinda Hawkins came under attack.  Although she lived in a quiet, gated community, somehow, someone got to her.

Canyon Lake, California
Canyon Lake, California

It was just after nine o'clock in the morning when a neighbor on Continental Drive in Canyon Lake noticed that Norma was not yet stirring.  Braidhill and Howard & Smith all name Alice Williams as the person who noticed; Braidhill says that Alice was Norma's best friend.  In fact, Norma hadn't been seen for several days, so Alice decided to check on her.  She went to the door and knocked, but there was no answer.  Listening for a few minutes, she heard only silence within.  That disturbed her. 

As an elderly woman, Norma could easily fall or succumb to a heart attack, although she was in good physical condition.  Alice knocked again and this time the door opened on its own.  It seemed uncharacteristic of Norma to leave the door unlocked.  Alice entered and walked around the first floor, calling Norma's name, but again, she received no response.  Norma would have told her if she was leaving for a few days, so the silence was disturbing.  With a cold chill of dread, Alice started up the steps to the second floor. 

There, in the upstairs den, Alice saw the elderly woman asleep in a chair, her feet covered by a brown afghan. But she seemed too still, so Alice went closer.  Norma was not asleep but dead and she'd been murdered!  Two separate wooden knife hilts from the same set were visible in her body, in the midst of a lot of blood: one in her neck and the other in her chest.  Alice contained her fear to call 911.  She tried not to think about how Norma had suffered or the fact that a killer had been in this house, next door to her, viciously attacking an elderly woman.  Worse, Alice had lost her best friend.

The police arrived, along with emergency personnel, and after checking the scene, they removed the knives from the body to check for fingerprints, then removed the body.  Before doing so, they noticed that her neck had been so deeply slashed she was nearly beheaded. 

Nike shoe print
Nike shoe print

In the house, detectives found a phone cord, cut, and a Nike shoe print visible in the dust.  The print was small, like one from a shoe for a woman, so it seemed less certain that this was the killer's shoe.  Nevertheless, they carefully preserved it.  Beneath Norma's body was a bloody phone.  To those who processed the crime scene, it seemed likely that Norma Davis's killer had known how to get into the secure community, as well as into the house.  There was no evidence of a break-in, leading detectives to suspect a family member someone she felt comfortable allowing inside.

According to the Press Enterprise, the autopsy indicated that the killer had stabbed Norma eleven times before leaving the knives sunk deeply into her.  She had also been manually strangled with great force, and it was likely she had been killed two days earlier.  No items of value had been taken from the home, or any money from Norma's purse.  A valuable ring had been left on her finger.

People in the area, especially the elderly, worried about a savage killer wandering around, looking for a way to break into their houses.  No one knew if Norma's death had been a random attack or something personal.  She did not appear to have enemies, but the idea of a burglar who relied on knives to kill strangers upon whom he preyed was too frightening to consider. 

The police asked for the public's help to provide information about someone seen in the area, or someone known to have threatened the victim.  They questioned Norma's relatives at length, but they soon had reason to worry when another victim was killed.

We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'