The Search for Cathy Davidson
The FBI seeks to bring closure in 50-year-old cold case about missing girl
Catherine (Cathy) Barbara Davidson was 6 years old when she was reported missing in Warren Dunes State Park, Michigan, on September 1, 1973.
Over 50 years have passed, but new information indicates that her possible death was concealed in the Chicago area shortly after she went missing.
Cathy was raised with her mother and sister in Chicago, Illinois. Cathy’s mother and father divorced before she was born but lived together until she was a toddler. Cathy’s mother was her primary caregiver, but during the summer of 1973, she allowed Cathy and her sister to stay with their father, Robert Davidson and his new wife, Anna Young.
When Labor Day weekend arrived, Cathy’s sister returned to her mother’s, but Cathy stayed at her father’s house, about 20 minutes away on Hermosa in Chicago. Cathy, Young, and Davidson allegedly went to Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Michigan, for a picnic that weekend. It was after this purported trip that Young and Davidson reported to Michigan State Police that Cathy had gone missing.
The Michigan State Police embarked on an extensive search for Cathy, combing creeks, the lake, and the woods around the dunes and also conducting interviews in the area. Their efforts were to no avail.
A breakthrough in the case wouldn’t come for another 43 years.
Murderous Mother Anna
After Cathy’s disappearance, her stepmother Anna Young reportedly adopted extreme religious beliefs and started a cult in Alachua County, Florida, in the early 1980s. Separately, investigators from both the FBI and Alachua County began looking into mysterious deaths and disappearances within this cult. Several cult members reported extensive abuse and beatings of the members, particularly of the children.
When members joined the cult, Young forced them to surrender their children to her oversight. The stories of abuse were vast, with Young physically hurting under the pretense of "beating the devil out" of them.
In one case, Young beat 2-year-old Katonya Jackson and deprived her of her seizure medication, which led to her death. In another case, Young beat 5-year-old Emon Harper and then placed him in a hamper as punishment, without food or water, until he was later found dead by another cult member. Young directed cult members to burn his body in a barrel, and she collected Social Security benefits for him for several years as if he was living.
Young also ordered cult members to take one young child to Puerto Rico and abandon him there—he has never been located. And when Young bathed a 12-year-old child in harsh chemicals and scalding water to "burn the devil out" of her, the child was left with severe permanent injuries and disfigurement.
In 1992, Young left the cult she created, changed her identity, and spent the next nine years on the run after being charged for the abuse of the 12-year-old child.
In 2001, law enforcement found her hiding in Illinois, but it wasn’t until 2017, after an extensive investigation by FBI and Alachua County, that Young was arrested for the deaths of Emon and Katonya. In 2021, Young pleaded guilty to their murders and was convicted. She was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison and died a month later in March 2021 from COVID-19.
The Search for Cathy
In late 2016, Joy Fluker, the only child of Young and Davidson—and Cathy’s half-sister—came forward to law enforcement with information that revealed more about her mother’s horrific past. Cathy’s mother, who moved to Texas, contacted the FBI office in Dallas to report what she had learned: that the alleged trip to Warren Dunes State Park and Cathy’s disappearance was a cover for a turn of events even more sinister.
The FBI contacted individuals nationwide who knew the Young-Davidson household around 1973. During the interviews, they learned that Young allegedly locked Cathy in a closet in the Young-Davidson home on Hermosa, which led to her death by suffocation. Witnesses reported observing Young and Davidson attempting to revive Cathy—and then Davidson and Young’s brother, Marvin Bobo, leaving with Cathy’s deceased body to dispose of it.
The FBI believes that, at some point, Davidson and Bobo told someone where Cathy’s body was placed. But Davidson died in 1988—he was found crushed under a car in a garage on the cult property. Some cult members believed that his death was not an accident and that he was starting to express remorse for Cathy’s disappearance. And Bobo—the last living individual known to be directly involved in Cathy’s death—died in 2007.
Despite the passage of time, the FBI is committed to finding Cathy and bringing closure in this case.
"Cathy’s family, still living, awaits to learn what has happened to her and where she is," said FBI Detroit Special Agent Trisha Kovac. "I believe that someone out there knows something that can help us find Cathy and bring her back to her family."
"Cathy’s family, still living, awaits to learn what has happened to her and where she is. I believe that someone out there knows something that can help us find Cathy and bring her back to her family."
FBI Detroit Special Agent in Trisha Kovac