The strange disappearance of Florida toddler Christy Davis

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At only 18, Ruby Davis was married with two small children, Pamela Davis, 3, and Christy Davis, 2. She and the girls resided at 1322 NW 12th St. in Ocala, Florida. Davis and the girls’ father were separated.

On July 28, 1973, Davis dropped the children off with her grandmother, Rebecca Henderson, age 68. Henderson lived at 469 NW 19th Ave. She had watched the children many times before, and Davis believed her children were safe with the older woman.

Henderson decided to walk to the grocery store with the girls that afternoon. Temperatures that day reached 95 F.

Resident Carmen Cotton saw the trio walking in the hot weather along a road on the city’s west side and gave them a ride. She believed she was taking them to Henderson’s house after Henderson told her, “I want to go home.”

Cotton drove west of Ocala “down a series of turns on secondary roads until they came to a dirt road that was a dead-end,” reported the Orlando Sentinel.

“This is as far as I can go,” Henderson said. “I can find my way from here.” The woman assured Cotton she could get home.

The trio exited the vehicle on the southwest side of State Road 200, close to where it intersects with SR 484 and 15 miles southwest of Henderson’s home.

At 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 29, 1973, Davis contacted the police when she could not get in touch with Henderson to pick up her children.

Two days after the trio vanished, searchers found Pamela near SR 484 west of SR 200 and Henderson a half-mile from Pamela, clad only in a slip. Both were covered with insect bites and disoriented. Christy was nowhere to be found.

Authorities transported Henderson and Pamela to a local hospital for treatment. A doctor said it appeared that both of them had food and shelter since disappearing. But how or where no one ever figured out.

The police questioned both extensively, but neither could remember what happened and could not say where Christy was, although Pamela stated that Christy was sleeping under a tree the last time she saw her. However, she could not say where the tree was located.

Henderson recalled a church, cemetery, and body of water and attempted to show deputies the site by riding over the rough terrain in a jeep. However, she could not pick out a single location.

The only church in that area was Cedar Grove Church. It had a cemetery with several lakes and small ponds nearby.

Then-Marion County Sheriff Don Moreland said that after exiting Cotton’s vehicle, the trio must have walked in a sort of arc pattern that brought them to SR 484, and they crossed it. Then, they had to walk about two miles or more into the swamps and woods through rattlesnake-infested terrain that also housed bobcats and wild boars. Yet, Henderson and Pamela made the journey without harm.

It was a complete mystery to the police, although they did not rule out that someone had transported them there.

A few days later, searchers found a pair of red shorts in a watermelon field adjacent to the search area. Christy had been wearing red shorts when she disappeared. Davis examined the shorts the next day but could not say if they belonged to Christy.

Searchers later found a tiny slip under a palm tree and a set of footprints north of Highway 200 near Circle-Square Ranch. The prints appeared to be about two days old, and authorities believed they could have been Christy’s because they did not belong to anyone at the ranch. Police could not tie the clothing to Christy.

Marion County sheriff’s deputy, E.R. Brannon, did not feel that Christy had ever been in the area near the ranch. He was sure that his tracking dog, Lt. Duke, would have found her. 

The search for Christy involved over 2,000 people, including the child’s mother, state and local law enforcement officials, military personnel, and volunteers, and took place over 10 days. However, they never found the missing toddler.

Authorities considered Henderson senile, even though Davis said her grandmother had never experienced senility before. According to Davis, her grandmother was fine when she dropped the kids off at Henderson’s home.

Authorities ended the search for Christy and concluded that she likely died from dehydration or animal attack and her remains eaten or scattered by wild animals.

Other than a couple of news articles here and there, Christy Davis has never been mentioned again, and she is not currently listed with any missing person agency.

Oak Hill Research team Scott Maxwell and Robin Randall stumbled upon Christy’s disappearance when researching a similar case a few years ago. They “contacted the Ocala PD and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office on May 1, 2018, to learn more, but their computer systems only go back to 1982/83. I spoke with a Sgt. Mike Mongeluzzo, who said he would follow up on it and initiate a NamUs case for Christie,” one wrote in a blog post.

Mongeluzzo never did for whatever reasons. 

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

This is one of the strangest cases I’ve ever read. I accidentally came across it while researching another case for a future article. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I don’t necessarily believe the trio became lost. I think it’s possible someone transported them to the church location and took Christy with them.

I have a few questions:

  1. Did Cotton notice whether Henderson was carrying a grocery bag? Did the trio ever make it to the store?
  2. How did Henderson and Pamela survive walking through swamps and woods for two days without water or running into wild animals and rattlesnakes?
  3. Why was Henderson found wandering in only a SLIP? Due to the hot weather? It does not appear that searchers found her clothes, or at least, news articles never mentioned it.
  4. How is it that Davis could not determine whether the red shorts belonged to Christy or not?
  5. Who fed and sheltered Henderson and Pamela after they vanished? Why did they not come forward to the police?

I wonder if Cotton’s story was true or if she knew more than she said. Maybe Davis also knew more. I find it odd that Davis did not contact the police until Sunday. When (or if) Davis arrived to pick up the kids, and nobody was there, I could see her returning home and waiting to hear from Henderson. But when that call never came that day, why didn’t she contact the police then?

Now, I don’t know if Christy was potty-trained, but police did not find her diaper or underwear in the search either way. They found a tiny slip and red shorts. What are the chances they did not belong to Christy? Could a 2-year-old take off her shirt and shorts herself if she became too hot? I don’t think so, but it’s been over two decades since my kids were that age! LOL.

Maybe they didn’t find the undergarments because someone took them, OR they discarded her clothes where searchers found them.

Deputy Brannon did not believe Christy was ever in the area near the ranch because his tracking dog would have found her, and I agree. Even if an animal had attacked her, searchers would have found something of her. So what happened to her?

I tried finding Ruby Davis and Pamela Davis. I might have found Pamela, but I can’t say for sure. The person I found lives in Ocala and is around the same age, but I could be wrong.

About Me

True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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