Arrest made in Davison murder case

Dogged police work has led to an arrest in one of the most perplexing and brutal murder cases in recent years in Kitsap County.

At a 2 p.m. press conference Thursday, Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer announced the arrest of John Richard Miller, 36, of Seattle. He was arrested at his place of work at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in Seattle without incident.

Miller was charged at 3 p.m. Thursday with the June 2000 murder of Ruth Davison, a 90-year old Illahee resident.

Superior Court Judge Terry McCluskey set Miller’s bail at $500,000.

Miller pled not guilty. He stood virtually mute in loose-hanging jail garb and did not look at anyone else in the courtroom.

Miller will face trial April 7. He was represented by public defender Joanne Dantonio of the Stenberg law firm of Tacoma.

Davison’s strangled, beaten body was found June 16, 2000. It was a mid-Friday morning when KCSO deputies found Davison’s Chevrolet Lumina with its engine running in a ditch near her trailer home on Northeast Rue Villa in Illahee. The car was halfway down a 40-foot embankment.

Deputies at first thought Davison might have been wandering confused in the nearby woods after an accident. They were considering beginning a search and rescue effort. Her son was contacted and when he opened his mother’s locked trailer, her body was found inside, further mystifying deputies because there were no signs of forced entry.

At the time, investigators said some evidence was found in Davison’s home which was sent to the state crime lab. But it never proved substantial enough for an arrest.

Davison’s picture was run in local and regional media for months afterwards and was listed by Crimestoppers with a substantial reward for information. There seemed to be no motive in the case for the beloved Davison, who neighbors said “knew everybody.”

But, behind the scenes, dogged police work had continued. A certificate of probawork had continued. A certificate of probable cause filed Feb. 10, indicates how police began to prove a case against Miller. Miller had allegedly told friends and relatives that he needed “cover” for the night Davison was murdered. At other times he said he had blacked out on the night of the murder after being “slipped” drugs. In talking with family and friends, Miller admitted at various times to being in a red car in Illahee. At one point, Miller described the night of Davison’s death as being “like a dream.”

The statement said Kitsap County detectives interviewed Miller at the state Correction Facility in Shelton in November 2002.

When detectives asked him about the night of Davison’s murder, he said he has “an image of himself in a bathtub with blood on his hands.” He requested the help of a psychiatrist who might hypnotize him to remember other events of the evening.

At the press conference Thursday, Boyer expressed relief at Miller’s arrest, but said the case was far from closed.

“We just never gave up,” Boyer said. “There are a number of individuals within the general public who may be witnesses or who may have knowledge about this despicable crime. I ask them to come forward and speak with us.”

Boyer said his department got a “great deal of satisfaction in bringing the case to this point.”

“To Ms. Davison’s family, to her friends, and to the neighbors in her community, I hope that the intensive efforts of the Sheriff’s Office ... bring to some degree, a measure of relief,” Boyer said.

Boyer said since 1961, of 77 murders in Kitsap County, only three are unsolved.

Anyone with knowledge of the case is asked to call KCSO detectives Ray Stroble (360) 337-5614 or Roger Howerton (360) 337-5611.

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