Sept. 8, 2011 — -- The disappearance of a former teacher of the year took a dark turn when her taxidermist husband -- and the chief supect in her disapperance -- was found dead in an apparent suicide, Maryland police said today.
The body of Jesse Davis was found in the couple's home Wednesday night, three days after he reported his wife, Alice Davis, missing.
Police are now saying Jesse Davis, 58, was the main suspect in his wife's disappearance.
Alice Davis, 55, was last seen Sunday evening, when she allegedly left to go shopping at Walmart. Her husband reported her missing on Monday evening. She has still not been located.
In a press conference today, investigators from the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office said that they believed Jesse Davis knew exactly what happened to his wife.
"Jesse Davis initiated a deliberate, calculated and continuous course of deception and fabrications surrounding the disappearance of his wife," Sheriff Michael Lewis said.
Jesse Davis was under "constant surveillance" by deputies and on Wednesday night, a car pulled into the Davis driveway and someone entered the house, police said. Moments later, the person exited the house after observing blood on the kitchen floor. Deputies secured the perimeter and moved in.
Inside, they found "the body of 58-year-old Jesse Davis in his living room recliner. It appears he died from self-inflicted lacerations to the left arm. Nearby evidence supported this as well," Lewis said.
Investigators also revealed that surveillance footage from the Big Lots parking lot where Alice Davis' abandoned blue Honda Fit was found shows Jesse Davis driving her car to the parking lot and abandoning it there.
"Even when confronted with many inconsistencies and repeated lies, he continued to maintain quote, 'I don't know," Lewis said.
Allice Davis' sister Barrie Tilghman believes something is amiss with the husband's story that his wife went shopping Sunday evening. "For her to leave the house at that time of the day is counter-intuitive to Alice's personality," Tiglhman said. "I've never known Alice to go to Walmart at 6:30 at night."
Alice Davis has been a teacher at Parkside High School for 28 years and is the English department chair. She was the school's Teacher of the Year in 2000.
"She loves what she teaches. She loves Shakespeare and she loves cats," said Tracy Sahler, the public information officer for the Wicomico County Public Schools. "She is a very dedicated teacher."
Tilghman served three terms as Sailbury's first female mayor before retiring in 2009. She last communicated with her sister on Aug. 29, via email. They exchanged messages about Tilghman's young grandson and Davis told her she had decided to sell her house.
"Everything was fine," Tilghman said. "[Alice] said, 'It's year 29 [of teaching]. Wish me luck."
This morning before school, 100 teachers, staff, students and former students gathered at the school's auditorium to hold vigil for Davis. Attendees wore school-themed green and white ribbons on their shirts in support of the search for Davis.
Police are investigating her disappearance as a criminal investigation and suspect foul play.
Air and ground searches for her continue today. A team of detectives, bloodhounds and cadaver dogs are searching for the teacher on the ground as helicopters search from above, according to DelmarvaNow.com. Law enforcement is asking community members and hunters with ATVs and horses to help in the search.
"My sister and I are absolutely convinced that everything that can be done is being done," Tilghman said. "Our focus is on finding Alice and bringing her home."
The brown-haired and blue-eyed teacher is 5-feet-9 and approximately 175 pounds. She was last seen wearing a yellow shirt with images of cats on the front, blue shorts and sandals.
"By no means is this investigation over," Lewis said. "We still have lots of work to do and more importantly—most importantly—we need to locate Alice Davis."