Latent Hit of the Year 2011 Texas
Narrator: The FBI Latent Hit of the Year is awarded annually to an outstanding latent examiner or officer who solved a major violent crime by using the FBI’s IAFIS database.
2011—Jill Kinkade and James Ramsey.
Jill Kinkade: Diane Jackson was on her way to work with the phone company, and when she left her car to walk into work someone grabbed her and took her into a shed that was at an abandoned gas station.
Jim Ramsey: There he raped her, robbed her, and murdered her.
Kinkade: After he murdrered her he stole her Mustang.
David Maxwell: HPD was able to recover some of his fingerprints from that vehicle.
Maxwell: She was my older sister. And she was five years older than I, and we were pretty close.
Maxwell: When she was killed, we really took it hard, as you can imagine.
Ramsey: Well, I know the effect that Diane’s murder had on David. At the time, he was gonna become an attorney.
Maxwell: But after this happened, I started looking at law enforcement. My goal was to become a Texas Ranger, and try to solve my sister’s murder.
Maxwell: Later on, as my Dad was quite elderly, every time I’d go see him, he’d ask me to please solve Diane’s murder before he died.
Ramsey: In 1975, I joined the Houston Police Department. And I would see David more and more. And we became good friends.
Kinkade: I know they’ve been friends for over 20 years, and how Jim Ramsey really looked up to David.
Ramsey: In 2003, David approached me and told me that his sister had been murdered in Houston back in 1969.
Maxwell: He was shocked. He was shocked that we had known each other for over 30 years, and he didn’t know my sister had been murdered, and it was an unsolved case.
Maxwell: I dare say there wasn’t anybody I worked with that knew about it.
Ramsey: But I was honored that out of all the people David knows in Texas law enforcement, and David knows everybody in Texas law enforcement, that he asked me to look into it.
Maxwell: He said absolutely. You let me know what I can do and I’ll do it.
Ramsey: I got the case file, very extensive…and to my dismay all the other evidence that had been collected that day had been thrown out at a later time. So then I began to look at the crime scene photos. And I learned that they were missing.
Maxwell: The pictures had somehow gotten out of the evidence room and had been sold to this detective magazine. Those were the only pictures that now existed.
Ramsey: And the one piece of evidence that we really needed, the prints that were on the outside of the car, they had been lost.
Maxwell: So they assigned four or five people to go through all the unsolved cases.
Ramsey: And we’re talking about thousands and thousands of just manila folders with print cards inside.
Maxwell: And they found it in a 1986 case. They just put it back in the wrong file. Now we have a chance. At least we have a chance to identify Diane’s murderer.
Kinkade: When we first got the print in, I entered the print through AFIS and I didn’t make an identification.
Kinkade: So our procedure was if we didn’t hit it in our system, then we had the IAFIS from the FBI available to us.
Cheryl Hubbard: When that first candidate came up, it was like “oh my gosh!”
Kinkade: This looks like it’s probably gonna be a hit.
Hubbard: We got the fingerprint card. Jill compared it, and I looked at it also, and we decided it was a hit, and we were just so excited. I mean we just couldn’t believe it.
Ramsey: OK, where do we go from here?
Ramsey: That was the first glimmer of hope in the whole case. Now we have a track, we have a trail to run down, we have a name. And we immediately started researching James Ray Davis.
Ramsey: For obvious reasons David could not be the one to go and confront Davis.
Maxwell: I had to back out of the investigation and just have hands off and let Jim do it.
Ramsey: And that’s one of the weightiest jobs I’ve had. A lot of trepidation. I was pretty nervous.
Maxwell: Yeah, there was a lot of pressure. But I will say that there’s nobody I’d rather have doing it than Jim.
Maxwell: First of all we located Davis in Texarcana.
Ramsey: We knocked on the door and we heard a voice say “come in”.
Ramsey: I said, “Mr. Davis we’re with the Houston Police Department”. Well, his demeanor changed totally then. Because he knew.
Maxwell: He was able to talk him into going down to the Texarcana police department and have an interview down there.
Ramsey: I pulled a picture of Diane’s car, it’s a ’68 red Mustang out and I laid it on the table in front of him. And he adamantly said “I’ve never seen that vehicle, never in my life”. And I said “You’ve never seen a ’68 Mustang?”
Ramsey: Mr. Davis, I want to show you a picture.
Ramsey: Then I pulled a picture of Diane that David had given to me, and I handed it to him and he wouldn’t take it. And he wouldn’t look at it.
Ramsey: I was absolutely convinced that he was our killer. We really needed a confession to get charges filed.
Ramsey: He began to open up. And I covertly turned on a recorder.
Ramsey: Mr. Davis, you’re doing a good job of telling the truth, I want you to be totally truthful.
James Ray Davis: She was screaming and hollering and I had a dutch knife and I just stabbed her one or two times and I jumped up and ran.
Ramsey: You took money from her, you stabbed her then took her car.
Ramsey: And I got him to admit to the murder and to taking her car, but he would not admit to the sexual assault.
Ramsey: But I was able to call David Maxwell, and tell him that, I think my words were “We hit it out of the park, David.” Gosh I’ll never forget it. We were both crying.
Maxwell: There’s no way to describe how I felt and what it meant to me to know that we’re going to bring him to justice.
Ramsey: And it wasn’t long afterwards that David’s Dad did pass away, he was in his 90s. But when he died he knew that his daughter’s murderer had faced justice.
Maxwell: He said “You know David, I’ve worked lots of homicides, but this is the most important case I’ve ever worked in my career.” And that meant a lot to me.
Ramsey: Because at one point we had nothing, nothing to go on.
Kinkade: But the FBI enabled us to close a case that we wouldn’t have closed with just our database.
Hubbard: And so if we hadn’t had IAFIS, we would have never hit this.
Kinkade: One day the lab director was standing in the hall with a real tall man with a cowboy hat on. He goes “Are you Jill?” And I said “Yes” and he goes “I’m David”. And he just said “Can I give you a hug?” And I said “Yeah.”
Maxwell: Thank you so much.
Narrator: Tap into the power of IAFIS.