Her remains were never released because the department requires that they be released to her next of kin, and no living family members have been found.
Ashe told The Wilson Post in an article in the Friday edition of the newspaper that “I am committed to give this lady a Christian burial.” The sheriff asked that if anyone had any information regarding Davis’s family to contact him or Bowman.
Ashe on Tuesday said since the article appeared, “We’ve heard from a world of people, but none blood kin.” He noted that he was told yesterday of a cousin of Davis’s who is still alive but reportedly has Alzheimer’s disease. “I don’t think I’ll pursue that.”
In the meantime, Bowman is continuing to work with officials in the Anthropology Department at UT to find out what they need to release Davis’s remains since there is no relative who can accept them.
Ashe said he has also spoken with a representative of a funeral home which he declined to name which has agreed to assist at cost and has also spoken to the manager of a cemetery about burial.
“We’re trying to work out the logistical stuff. We may have to petition the court” for release of the remains if that is required, he added. “I have not heard from a blood relative,” Ashe said, adding he has talked to people who knew Davis’s mother and father. She had no siblings. “We’re trying to work through it.”
Edwina Reeder of Lebanon knew Davis through her job with the State of Tennessee Labor Department from which she is now retired. “I had an opportunity to serve her through the unemployment office. That’s how I met her,” Reeder said yesterday afternoon in a telephone interview.
Reeder said as best as she could remember, Davis “was from Jackson County. She came here to work at Texas Boot.” Davis worked there for a period of eight to 10 years.
In her job with the Labor Department, Reeder worked closely with people who were seeking employment and that sometimes led to her being told things in confidence by her clients. She did not want to reveal too much of her conversations with Davis, but noted that “Betty was a character. She sort of lived frugally. She was a pleasure to work with.”
An article in the Feb. 25, 1982 edition of The Wilson World said that Davis was reported missing sometime in 1981. Her remains, which consisted of a skull, rib bones, teeth, finger and toe nails, a clump of matted hair and a bloody T-shirt and blue jeans were discovered in February ’82 in the woods behind a cemetery near the Hurricane Baptist Church.
Part of the skull was found by a family in late January ’82 which had been dug up by a dog. The skull, according a report from the state pathologist, had never been buried, so authorities went to the area where it was found to do a search believing there might be more remains.
Investigators later returned to the site where they and found a knife, believed to be the murder weapon, about 45 steps away from where the bones had been discovered.Ashe said authorities believe they knew who the possible killer was, but that person is now deceased.
If you have any information regarding Davis or her family members, call Ashe or Bowman at 444-1412.Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.