The Killer Inside Him

The twisted life--and lethal secrets--of Gary Davis.

What happened next has been recounted many times, but never with absolute certainty. Davis and Fincham have made so many conflicting statements about their crime that none can be accepted as gospel. In one version, Davis hauls May out of the car, takes her out of sight and goes berserk while a helpless, terrified Fincham sits in the car, oblivious even to the shooting because she keeps the windows rolled up. In another, Davis is painted as a confused, passive accomplice while Fincham, in a jealous rage, barks orders and commits most of the violence.

The most credible version, based on statements Davis made to his own attorneys and physical evidence presented in court, is a duet of atrocity. May was stripped and dragged out of the car with a rope around her neck. Davis attempted, but may have failed, to have sex with her. (Despite his testimony in court that he assaulted May repeatedly, for years afterward he insisted he did not "rape" her--which could be true, but not, it seems, for lack of trying.) May was then forced to engage in oral sex with Fincham.

Throughout it all May fought and pleaded for her life. She offered the couple a thousand dollars to let her go. But both Davis and Fincham must have known where this was headed long before they pulled up at May's house. Davis struck her in the head with the rifle butt, fracturing her skull. She still had the strength to raise her hands in a final effort to defend herself as she was shot fourteen times with hollow-point bullets.

Defense lawyers have speculated that Davis and Fincham took turns firing the rifle, partners to the end. A psychologist retained by Davis's appeals team suggested that the multiple gunshot wounds--nine to the head, four to the torso, one to the groin--may have been the work of an enraged woman seeking not only to kill but to disfigure her rival. But Davis has said that he, and he alone, did the shooting. He admitted it in his first, fragmentary "confession" to police and in his final televised apology to May's family, aired a few weeks ago.

Yet Fincham was hardly an innocent bystander. It seems unlikely either one could have been capable of such depravity alone; together they fueled each other's fantasies, goaded each other into the abyss. Investigators suspected that much of the sexual paraphernalia found at their residence after the crime--not just garden-variety smut but glossy magazines celebrating torture and pain, as well as a collection of dildos and butt plugs--belonged to Fincham, who was not above writing long, raunchy letters to her own daughter detailing her efforts to keep "Daddy" interested in her. Davis would later claim that she even offered him her fifteen-year-old offspring as a possible sexual partner, but he declined.

The two were instant suspects in the disappearance of Ginny May; when May's husband came home and found the children alone, they told him their mother was gone because "Becky took her." As night fell, the police and frantic family members attempted to question the Davises about May's whereabouts. Although Davis supposedly had consumed a case of beer that day (and would eventually blame convenient alcoholic blackouts for his failure to recall details of the crime), a sheriff's deputy thought he seemed quite sober. As she always did, Becky did most of the talking for both of them.

"We want to do everything we can to help you find your daughter," she told Rod MacLennan, Ginny May's father. "I know how you feel. I was once raped myself."

Later, at the Strasburg sheriff's substation, Davis insisted on being allowed to talk to Fincham before he would make any statements about May. The two were allowed a brief conversation in a small library at the station.

"The ball game's over, babe," Davis said.
"Don't tell 'em shit," Fincham replied. "We'll get a lawyer."

I hope Bob Grant don't tell everyone he won my case. I won it for him. (1/20/88)

I have already contacted a lawyer about putting a stop to my appeals. It has NOTHING to do with being chicken. I don't think a chicken could do it. Sitting in this little square hole for a decade isn't my bag of tea. I was raised in the outdoors and this is really getting to me. Even if I had a life term, big deal...I don't want a natural life in here...This is not a death wish it's what I feel best for myself. (5/24/90)

Trying to get executed a few years ago put me about three years ahead of Frank [Rodriguez]. You know one good thing about being executed first is, the needle would be clean. (2/15/94)

On July 21, 1987, a year to the day after the murder of Ginny May, Davis found out he was headed for death row. It took the jury only three hours to find him guilty of kidnapping and murder. It took another three hours to sentence him to death.

The verdict was no surprise. Two days earlier, Davis had sabotaged his own defense counsel by taking the stand and insisting on taking all the blame for the crime. Attorney Craig Truman had tried to save him from the death penalty by arguing that Rebecca Fincham, who'd already been convicted of murder and was facing a life sentence, was just as culpable as Davis, so Davis should receive life, too.

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