The Spook Who Sat By the Door The Spook Who Sat By the Door

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Man jailed in death of 8-year-old girl Billy Frank Davis Jr. jailed on suspicion of murder, rape, burglary

Details steadily emerged Tuesday about the predawn sexual assault and slaying of 8-year-old Ahliyah Nachell Irvin in Topeka’s Highland Park area.

“This was a particularly heinous crime,” said Topeka Police Chief Ron Miller.

Billy Frank Davis Jr., 28, of Topeka, was booked into the Shawnee County Jail on Tuesday night in connection with aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, rape and felony first-degree murder, said Topeka police Capt. Jerry Stanley.

Stanley said police don’t think Davis had any connection to the little girl, who was a second-grade student at Highland Park Central Elementary School.

A second person of interest was being questioned late Tuesday, Lt. Chuck Haggard said.

Ahliyah was reported missing at 5 a.m. Tuesday from the 2400 block of S.E. Bellview, the same area where her body was found 45 minutes later.

“We began a search in the area,” Topeka Police Chief Ron Miller said.

A law enforcement officer found the girl dead at Highland Park Townhomes, an apartment complex east of Highland Park High School.

“I’m not prepared to confirm any of the circumstances under which she was found or where she was found or the condition of her body,” Miller said during a news conference in front of the Law Enforcement Center.

Police had several areas at the apartment complex roped off with crime scene tape. Haggard said Tuesday night one of the crime scenes had been released, but evidence was still being collected at other areas around the complex.

Ahliyah’s family was cooperative with police, Miller said.

Students and staff members at Highland Park Central were offered an opportunity to visit with counselors and social workers at the school, said Ron Harbaugh, Topeka Unified School District 501 spokesman.

“They will be there the remainder of the week,” he said.

Ahliyah had attended kindergarten at Highland Park Central, Harbaugh said. The family moved to Kansas City, Kan., but Ahliyah moved back in October and attended classes for two months at Meadows Elementary School. She then attended classes for two months at Stout Elementary School. In January, she moved back to Highland Park Central.

“It’s a sad day for Topeka Public Schools,” Harbaugh said of Ahliyah’s death.

Students were told at the end of the school day, and letters were sent home.

“It really is a shock to the whole community,” Harbaugh said.

Ahliyah was born Feb. 8, 2004, in Topeka, to Angela M. Ortega and Randy M. Irvin Sr. She had two sisters and one brother.

Residents of Coachlight Village mobile home park, just west of the creek where police located Davis, said they saw him run through the park toward the creek about half an hour before police took him into custody.

Coachlight Village is near S. Kansas Avenue and 37th Street. Interstate 470 is located just to the west, and a creek and bike path are just east of the mobile homes.

About 50 law enforcement officers were brought in to search for Davis.

“The perimeter was so tight air couldn’t escape,” Miller said.

Police Lt. Jana Harden said Davis didn’t try to run when confronted by officers.

The Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, Kansas Highway Patrol and USD 501 officers also assisted in the search, she said.

Linn Elementary, at S.E. 40th and Quincy, was on lockdown for about an hour Tuesday morning because a person matching Davis’ description was at the school building, Harbaugh said.

“He may have been just trying to get out of the area,” Miller said.

Miller said Davis entered the foyer but didn’t make it any further because of locked doors.

Ron Brown, USD 501 director of safety, said the secretary at the school denied Davis access and immediately reported the incident to police.

Brown said Topeka police did “an excellent job” coordinating with the school and getting crisis teams in place.

Harbaugh said the building is used by the district for offices after being closed last year. A few students were at the school as part of the restorative education and gifted programs.

“None of the students or staff were in any danger, because the school was in lockdown,” Harbaugh said.

Kansas Department of Corrections and Shawnee County District Court records show Davis was serving two years of intensive supervised probation. Shawnee County District Court Judge Mark Braun sentenced him March 5 after he pleaded no contest and was found guilty of aggravated assault and aggravated battery stemming from a Dec. 30, 2011, attack in a central Topeka apartment where gunshots were fired and a man was beaten with a chair.

That man, Larry Smith, told The Topeka Capital-Journal that Davis pointed a gun at him and pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed.

Corrections department records also show Davis with prior convictions in 2009 and 2010 in Geary County that included criminal threat, domestic battery, criminal damage and violation of a protective order.

Ahliyah’s obituary can be found on Page 4B. Funeral services are planned for 2 p.m. Friday.

Attempts to reach Ahliyah’s family were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Capital-Journal staff writer Samantha Foster contributed to this report.

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