Laura Fly didn’t answer her doorbell, instead staying behind the locked door and a storm door that has a sticker notifying any visitor her residence is protected by a newly installed security system.
Fly eventually peeked outside when she heard the person talking with a neighbor and knew she was safe.
Before Aug. 28, Fly said she likely would have come to the door immediately. That changed when Elbert Farley “Possum” Davis Jr., 88, was killed in a home invasion at his residence on nearby High Street.
A friend found Davis on Aug. 28 at the bottom of the basement stairs. He was taken to Huntsville Hospital, where he died from an apparent head injury.
“I keep the doors locked at all times,” Fly said. “I used to keep it unlocked when I was home, but not anymore. It’s shocking that this happened so close to us. My roommate went to church with him.”
Davis’ death occurred in a seemingly safe neighborhood. The offender or offenders remain on the loose and that, along with the knowledge the attack appears random, has left an impact on the community.
Jack and Lynne Weaver live near Davis’ residence and said they had long cherished him as a neighbor and friend. They said the crime has them more protective.
“We have been extra careful,” Lynne Weaver said. “It kind of freaks you out when something like that happens.”
Jack Weaver said he felt “a little nervous” for a while afterward.
“When you get up in the morning to get the paper and it’s still dark, it makes you feel funny.”
“It really changes the way you think,” Lynne Weaver said.
The Weavers said they have lived at the residence for 30 years and don’t plan to leave. They expressed confidence in the Police Department and said they feel protected by them.
“We’re going to hang tough,” Jack Weaver said.
“But with more caution,” his wife added. “That’s a sign of the times everywhere.”
Davis’ home is directly across the street from Deshler Middle School. Having such a frightening tragedy occur so close was a shock, said Bryan Murner, interim principal at the school.
“We’re always focused on the safety of the children, so that happening so close was unnerving,” Murner said. “When the police showed up, most of our children were already gone from school, but it made us more aware of who’s around us and our surroundings.”
Murner said school officials considered Davis part of the Deshler family. The marquee outside the school had a tribute to Davis after his death.
“He’d come over every now and then to see us,” Murner said. “The last time was when we had a 9/11 memorial outside. He came over to say he appreciated us doing that.”
Murner said he hopes the person or people responsible are caught.
“I hope someone will come forward with information to help put the family at some peace,” he said.
Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan said his department continues to work diligently on the case. The Alabama Bureau of Investigation is assisting, and Gov. Robert Bentley offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the culprit or culprits.
“It’s something we work on every day,” Logan said. “We refuse to let it go cold. We owe that to the family and we owe that to the community.
“We meet or talk with the family numerous times each week to keep them up to date. We feel it’s important to keep them in the loop. I strongly encourage anybody with information to contact the Police Department or Crime Stoppers. We still need information. We’re still working on some of the forensics side of it. The state has been tremendous to work with us on this since Day One. We’re trying to bring every possible resource we have at our disposal.”
The Police Department’s number is 256-383-3121. The number for Crime Stoppers is 256-386-8685.
Logan said Davis’ death is particularly worrisome to residents, many of whom are concerned that the act seems so random.
“It is very rare that you find a case where the victim does not know the offender,” Logan said. “Of course, we have not ruled that out by any means. We’re not closing our eyes to any avenue in this case.
“Tuscumbia is a safe community. The Shoals is a safe community to live. We take pride in our relatively low crime rate, and violent crime is a rare thing to happen. This unnerves all of us.
“Until we get the offender or offenders in Possum’s death, none of us will be satisfied.”
Davis, a World War II veteran and member of First Baptist Church in Tuscumbia, was a well-loved figure who showed up at Spring Creek Golf Course to play every day. Today, a putter encased in glass adorns a wall of the golf course clubhouse.
Because Davis lived near the course, he’d drive his golf cart to the course, where everyone knew him.
Amos Malone, who repaired Davis’ clubs through the years, said losing Davis has left a hole in the clubhouse.
“I’d known him for years,” Malone said. “It’s just always like something is missing here, and always will be.”
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.