Chloe Davis Murder Case: Part 3

In the world of criminal psychiatry, Dr. Joseph Paul De River was a self-made man, a visionary and a pioneer with some of the most revolutionary ideas of his time.

Before the good doctor began to dip into the heads of the Los Angeles criminal populace the dedicated field of criminal psychiatry, more specifically the minds of sexual psychopathic criminals, was uncharted territory. That particular field of study, of specialized practice and skill, did not exist. De River recognized this and knew that if one wanted to be able to understand the evil that undoubtedly existed in the psyche of some, then that evil would have to be studied.

Being an exceptionally driven man whose ambition was only equaled by his egocentricities, De River, began his internship, of sorts, by volunteering his time as a consultant in the area of criminal psychiatry for the Los Angeles Probation Department. It was through his work there that he began to make a name for himself within the law enforcement community as the man to call when it came to criminal psychiatry. It is also where his interest in criminal psychiatry became focused on the psycho-sexual criminal mind. Before long his freelancing for the probation department would include the Los Angeles courts when various sitting judges would call him aside and ask for his views on this case or that.

In June 1937 De River began his ascent into rockstar status when he was called to consult on a case involving the murder of three little girls in Inglewood, California. There was no suspect in the case and De River had been requested to review the crime scene and provide his insight into the psychology of the type of individual who could commit such a heinous act.

Relying on the expertise he had gleaned from the countless hours he had spent reviewing criminals and their crimes for the Los Angeles judicial system, gratis no less, Dr. De River submitted a report of his summations to the Inglewood District Attorney’s office and police department. This report contained an analysis of the type of individual that the doctor felt law enforcement should be looking for and could arguably be called the first initial effort at criminal profiling for the specific purpose of identifying a suspect in a crime.

After the Inglewood suspect was arrested it was debatable as to the significance Dr. De River’s profile actually played. And there may have also been a question, or two, as to the actual accuracy of his suspect analysis. However, given that it was 1937 at the time it was an impressive effort nonetheless.

Law enforcement hadn’t yet had a chance to employ the use of the profile in their hunt for the Inglewood killer when the suspect, a rather dim-witted individual who had already been cleared of the crime, walked in unannounced and loudly proclaimed that he wanted answers as to why law enforcement was still looking at him as a suspect. They hadn’t been, but they were now.

Regardless of the actual success of his profile, De River had succeeded in impressing some of the more powerful figures in the Los Angeles law enforcement community with his exceptional insight into the criminal mind. So much so that he was subsequently provided an official position with the Los Angeles Police Department, although it would still be in the freelance capacity, heavy on the free. Two more years would pass before the doctor would become an official paid employee of the LAPD.

He had become the first psychiatrist to be hired by a police department in a major US city and as a result became the founder of the first Sex Offense Bureau in the United States. Housed within the Los Angeles Police Department, De River maintained structured, detailed files on those convicted, arrested, or suspected, of committing sexually motivated offenses. He would examine his subjects both physically and psychologically, photograph them, fingerprint them, interview them and then catalogue them by their various proclivities. It would later come as no surprise to many of those who knew the doctor, and respected his work, that he would be requested to help pen the first sex offender registration law in the United States, one that has continued to stay in effect today.

With all that he created, and though he would come to be involved in the criminal investigation of one of the most infamous unsolved homicides in the history of Hollywood, the Black Dahlia, the case that would send his rising star crashing into the ground, more than sixty years would pass from that beautiful spring morning in 1940 when the suave police psychiatrist would make the acquaintance of the young Miss Chloe Davis and nary a sole will have heard his name or know the significance that this complicated and fascinating man played in the chronicles of criminal profiling.

Dr. Joseph Paul De River was a most important figure in the annals of criminal psychiatry and crime investigation, a brilliant man, a man of considerable ego and the keeper of his own brand of secrets. He may not have known it at the time but he would become the grandfather of criminal profiling and sex offender registration. He would also come to find himself both loathed and loved by the very people he had called colleague and friend.

The Interview
By the time 1940 rolled around the name J. Paul De River had more than begun to gain prominence and power within the Los Angeles law enforcement community.

Being that he was the official police psychiatrist, Captain Edwards requested that Dr. De River accompany him to the hospital to interview the young Miss Davis. When they arrived Chloe was in the company of a policewoman. She had been treated for the head wound and was now lying on top of one of the infirmary beds. Her arms comfortably crooked at the elbows and her hands clasped behind her head.

In addition to the small scalp wound and blistered palms she also had a small bruise to her upper right forearm, about the size of the hammer head, and several fingernail scratches just above her right elbow. There was also a thin scratch approximately 1 ¼ inches in length that ran along the inside of her left thigh. She was at ease, alert, and entirely unemotional regarding the events of the day. She exhibited no more of an emotional response over the brutal slaying of her mother and younger siblings than if someone had just said “Chloe, dear, I boiled eggs.”

Dr. De River entered Chloe’s room and took center stage. He was a balding man of average height and build, perhaps just a little stout, with squared shoulders, made to look even more so by the dapper dress of the day. Not particularly handsome, in the classic sense of the word, yet, even so, one couldn’t help but be in awe of the famed police psychiatrist. He was cock sure of himself and exuded confidence; a stylish, natty dresser with a slick dark moustache and overall look that rivaled any up and comer of the time. If one didn’t know better they could easily ask whose image came first; Agatha Christie’s Poirot or that of the good doctor. His large hands reached into his pocket for his pipe. It was a black shiny thing with a long, straight stem and as he held a match to the bowl and began to gradually suck at the stem the sweet musky scent of pipe tobacco wafted through the air.

As her captive audience listened, 11-year old Chloe Davis began to tell the story of how she came to find herself in her current, unseemly predicament. As she spoke she nibbled from a bag of candy she had been given, occasionally offering some to those who now shared her tiny room at the Police Emergency Hospital. Her parents, if anything at all, had raised a polite and courteous child and to not offer to share would be nothing less than ill mannered. And she certainly wasn’t ill mannered – well, maybe just a little. But then weren’t most 11-year olds at one moment or another?

There was no doubt that Chloe had a tendency to get angry on occasion. By her own admission she said had a quick and volatile temper. A former neighbor and the mother to one of Chloe’s friends could apparently attest to that and stated that according to her daughter “Chloe had once grabbed her mother by the hair and knocked her head against a concrete wall because she refused to give her a nickel for ice cream.”

Chloe was an athletic child and captain of her gymnastics team. At 4-feet 11-inches tall, and a little over 80Lbs, she was just a head shorter than her mother and about 50Lbs lighter. She was a strong, agile youngster, her muscle tone and overall strength more in line with that of a 13-year old boy than an 11-year old girl. Proud of her strength and physique, Chloe happily flexed a bicep for her inquisitors.

J. Paul De River drew on his pipe, gazed at Chloe and began to pose the most obvious of questions. What happened that morning at the Davis residence, and what possessed her to beat her mother in the head thirty times with a claw hammer? Then twenty more times about the body with the handle when the hammer’s head broke free from the wear and tear and flew haphazardly across the room?

According to Chloe; she, her mother, and her siblings were all asleep when her father left for work that morning. She and her siblings all shared a room and it was her sisters who had gotten little Marquis up that day allowing her to continue to sleep. (When police respond to the crime scene they find Marquis dead on the kitchen floor, completely dressed, shoes tied. Daphne is also dressed.)

She had awoken to the the agonizing shrieks and yelps of pain from her brother and sisters as Lolita Davis pummeled them in the head with her hammer. Her mother was screaming; “I’m doing this for your own good. I love you so much that I have to kill you in order to save your souls.”

Chloe leapt from her bed and ran into the hallway where she encountered her mother as she wildly swung the hammer toward the little girl’s head. Chloe quickly moved out of the way and the hammer only grazed her scalp. As Chloe struggled with her mother for the weapon she was easily able to over power the severely anemic and slight framed woman.

The crazed woman was screaming of demons and a power she possessed to kill. She said that she had used that power to kill her young niece and then demanded that Chloe help her drag a mattress from a cot in her room to the hallway. Chloe obliged.

She stated that her mother than grabbed some matches from a cupboard and attempted to light her (Chloe’s) hair on fire. But she was too quick for her and would blow the matches out before her mother could do any damage to her beautiful blond locks. Lolita Davis, laid down upon the mattress and instructed her eldest daughter to set her afire; first her hair and then her nightgown. Her nightdress went up in flames around her head and she began to scream in pain from the burns that had now been inflicted upon her body. She implored her daughter to beat the life out of her with the hammer. Chloe, being concerned over her mother’s now ever present suffering paused and considered her mother’s request, for but a second, maybe two. Choosing to put her mother out of her current state of misery, Chloe began to beat the hell out of her.

It was laborious work, the matter of murdering her mother. After a bit she became tired and her throat parched. Chloe lay down for a few minutes, while her mother continued to beseech her to beat her brains in. After she rested a bit and regained some of her strength and composure she went into the bathroom and got herself a glass of water. Being the unselfish child that she was, after she quenched her own thirst she then “poured some down [her mother’s] throat.” Once she had been sufficiently rehydrated Chloe resumed beating the helpless woman in the head. This routine continued three or four more times, according to Chloe. She would become tired, weak and dizzy, and need to go lay down. All the while her mother was lying in the hallway pleading for her to continue striking her in the head until she was dead. After she was rested, Chloe would then get a drink of water and “also pour some down [her mother’s] throat” then resume the tedious, tiring, wielding of the hammer.

It was on one of Chloe’s jaunts to quench her continual thirst, from the exertion of pummeling a woman who refused to die, that Chloe said she entered the kitchen and found the backdoor ajar. She noted that the time was a quarter to eight; approximately forty-five minutes or so after her father had left for work. Marquis was whimpering helplessly on the kitchen floor. Chloe asked her mother if she shouldn’t whack him a few more times in order to silence his suffering. Her mother nodded. After striking her brother until he was dead, Chloe returned to the hallway and again proceeded to continue to beat her mother in the head.

Ultimately, the head of the hammer became loose and flew from the handle. Not to be dissuaded from the task at hand, Chloe went into the kitchen, stepped over her brother’s body and got another hammer from a drawer. It was small, thin, silver and sleek. It was one singular piece of metal, shaped like an ‘L’ and slightly resembling a reflex hammer from the doctor’s office. At one end of the metal handle was a small hammer head, at the other end a small v-shape made the claw. Much to her dismay, Chloe, found that the tiny little hammer was not nearly strong enough to do any significant damage. She picked up the handle to of the one that had broke and continued to pound on the frail woman’s body with it instead.

Despite the appearance that Lolita Davis died from blunt force trauma the coroner would return findings that her skull had never fractured. With her head resting on top of a pillow, that was resting atop a mattress, it would appear that while Chloe was bludgeoning her mother with all of her might, all her mothers head would do was bounce.

The cause of death that the coroner returned was surprising. Lolita Davis had died from the loss of blood resulting from her wrists being slashed. One had been cut so completely that an artery was severed. To the amazement of investigators, just prior to the coroner releasing the cause of death, Chloe would remember that her mother had asked her to get a razor so that she could slit her wrists. At first Chloe denied having witnessed her mother cut herself, but later admitted that she had, in fact, watched her do it.

After twelve hours of questioning by the best police investigators in Los Angeles, Chloe Davis was transported to the juvenile detention facility where a charge of murder was attached to her admissions sheet.

As she was preparing to retire for bed a member a the staff inquired as to whether or not Chloe was hungry and perhaps would like something to eat. “A big steak and a bottle of beer” she quickly barked in reply. When her steak was provided and the beer was not Chloe became defiant and boasted that she liked beer and that her mother happily split one with her only a few days prior.

When morning came she wolfed down breakfast and prepared to begin another day of questioning. An inquest into the murders was set for today and there would be a field trip. Chloe would accompany the investigators to the crime scene for a walk-through.

AP photos:
Chloe at the Police Emergency Hospital with policewoman
Diagram of Murder Scene

Chloe Davis Murder Case: Part 2

It was Christmas day in 1926 and 23-year old Lolita Dell Bjorkman was getting married to her heart’s desire, 28-year old Frank Barton Davis. Barton, as he was called, or F. Barton Davis as he would later be referred to in the press, was born in Kansas and Lolita in Illinois. Both had grown up in the same Michigan town, met and fell in love. Barton had briefly moved to Los Angeles in 1925 but hastily returned home so that he could marry his hometown sweetheart. Over the next few years, with children in tow, he and his new bride would move back and forth between Grand Rapids and Los Angeles.

On September 4, 1928 a beautiful baby with bright blue eyes was placed into the arms of two excited new parents. The Davises, opting for a name that was rooted in family history, chose Chloe Dibble for their little girl. Over the course of nine years Chloe would be joined by three siblings: Daphne Dell arriving on January 10, 1930; Deborah Ann on July 1, 1933; and little brother Barton Marquis, who followed his sisters on March 7, 1937.

By 1940 the Davises had again settled in Los Angeles. They were now living in a little two-bedroom house at West 58th Place. They were a typical middle-class family. Devoted to their children, attended Sunday services with their neighbors and were thought of as one of the most likable and devoted families in the church. Barton Davis was a manger at a local grocery store and Lolita spent much of her time the same way that most mothers do, caring for her children and caring for her home. She was an impeccable housekeeper and, according to her husband, her children adored her. When she found free time she would spend much of it reading; both she and her eldest daughter shared the same love of books, including an attraction to crime stories. But her primary interest was in how to be a good parent, so she spent a great deal of time reading up on the subject. Two of the books found in the Davis home were titled How to Be a Good Mother and How to Raise Children. The Davis family, by all appearances, were normal, vanilla, status quo.

Then, one lovely spring morning, all hell broke loose.

When police arrived at the Davis residence officers were stunned by what they encountered. The murder scene was as gruesome as one could imagine. And there at the heart of it all was Chloe. Just as calm, cool and collected as could be. Her mother and little brother were dead at the scene. Daphne and Deborah, alleged to still be breathing, were transported to a local hospital. Each pronounced dead shortly thereafter as a result of the injuries they had sustained. Her father was near collapse. And through it all Chloe shed no tears, never lost her composure.
Chloe arrived at the ‘Police Emergency Hospital’, as it was termed then, sporting a minor head wound and substantial blisters to the palms of her hands. The staff wrapped her head in an exaggeration of bandages that seemed to be more for effect than in response to any significant injury. Her head wound wasn’t life threatening by any stretch of the imagination, and it certainly hadn’t been inflicted with near the strength and force that was behind the crushing blows to her siblings. They had each been struck multiple times, and with such force that many of the skull shattering wounds had retained the contour of the head of the hammer that inflicted them.

Captain Edgar Edwards, of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Homicide Squad, opined early in the investigation that the blisters were a result of considerable use of the hammer; her head injury was most likely self-inflicted or it had occurred during the scuffle with her mother.
For the moment Chloe was in a ward at the hospital under police supervision and for the next twelve hours she would be relentlessly questioned. Her calm, unemotional responses and cool, unaffected demeanor during the hours long interview would mystify even the most experienced and hardened of the homicide squad. No matter the tactic, the little girl was never going to crack under the pressure. She wouldn’t be rattled. She was quite the cool cucumber for a child her age, at one point when she thought investigators were trying to trick her into an admission of culpability she barked “you can’t make me confess. I didn’t do it.”

Captain Edwards believed that Chloe had killed her family, although he had no idea of the motive. His evaluation of the crime scene, based, I’m sure, on his years of experience as a police officer, indicated to him that Chloe had awoken while her mother was still in bed. She went into the kitchen and bludgeoned Marquis and Daphne. Hearing the screams of her children, Lolita Davis sprang from her bed and was met by Chloe as she ran into the hallway. A struggle ensued and Chloe stuck her mother knocking her to the ground. Upon ending her mother’s life Chloe then went into the bathroom and killed Deborah Ann. Edwards believed that in an attempt to disguise what she had done Chloe drug a mattress into the hallway, placed her mother’s body upon it, and in an effort to burn the house down she attempted to set the body afire by igniting her mother’s nightgown. When Chloe saw that she was not going to be able to incinerate the house and the evidence it contained she took an hour to get her self together and think things through. She then concocted a most unbelievable story in order to explain the events of the morning - her mother had been seeing demons and the entire chaotic, bloody mess was all her fault.

Upon hearing Edwards’ version of events, Chloe disagreed with all points, save two; she did indeed murder her mother and brother. However, she most certainly did not lay a single bloody digit on either of her sisters. Her mother had killed the two of them.

Chloe blamed the entire affair on her mother. In her version of events she was the last one up and had awoken to the sounds of hammering and screaming. Her mother was in a murderous fury, running around the house half-naked and screaming about visions of demons as she cracked open the skulls of her precious babies. She insisted that the children must die in order for them to be saved and after apologizing to her eldest daughter for not murdering her as well, she begged Chloe to beat her in the head until she could no longer speak or breathe. Surely, a blade to the throat would have been much quicker way to go.

According to Chloe she found Marquis moaning and whimpering in pain on the kitchen floor. After asking her mother if she shouldn’t hit him a few more times in order to put him out of his misery, Lolita Davis, suffering from massive head trauma, allegedly either raised her head and nodded ‘yes’ or actually spoke the words - depending on which version of Chloe’s story you prefer. Chloe stated that the only reason that she killed her mother and brother was because she had been instructed by her mother to do so. And being a most obedient child, who would never argue with her parents, Chloe did exactly as she was told to do – or so she said.

During the initial examination into the mental state of Lolita Davis, both father and daughter insisted that she had never before spoken of demons or exhibited any sign of insanity. According to her husband, she was “as normal as anyone could be.” But in less than 24-hours police would request assistance from the elder Davis in questioning his daughter. And as F. Barton Davis listened to the horrific tale spinning from his daughter’s lips, almost as soon as he had uttered those words in defense of his wife’s sanity, he would begin to take them back.

And so began the defilement of Lolita Dell Bjorkman-Davis by her husband and daughter as a murderous mother who after killing her three children, and wounding a fourth, committed suicide by slitting her wrists while beseeching her 11-year old child to bludgeon her to death with a hammer.

Top right, Lolita Davis; Baby Chloe
Middle left, Marquis, Chloe, Daphne and Deborah
Bottom left, F. Barton Davis and Chloe

Mother May I...Murder You?

The Chloe Davis Murder Case

Lolita Davis had grown quiet and still. Her burned and battered body lay partially sprawled on a mattress that had been drug from one of the bedrooms and now rested in the hallway squarely between her bedroom door and that of the bathroom.

Unrecognizable and practically scalped from repeated blows with a claw hammer, her hair and nightgown had been burned almost completely from her body and her wrists had been slashed with a razor - severing an artery. Chloe, her 11-year old daughter, sat at her side.

Chloe rose from the position she had held next to her mother. The house had grown quiet. There were no more screams or guttural moans and gurgles from the dying. All she could hear now was the sound of her own breathing. The house was in shambles, blood splattered the walls and Chloe herself. She looked down at her nightgown. It too was covered in blood.

Chloe was stoic as she maneuvered her way toward the bathroom, side-stepping ever so slightly around the mattress that her mother was laid out on. The hallway was narrow and the mattress and her mother’s body were taking up a great deal of room. When she exited the bathroom she would have to side-step around the mattress again, or walk across the corner of it, in order to get to her bedroom where her clothes were. The living room was just to the right of her bedroom so at least she wouldn’t have to maneuver around her mother’s body again to get to the front door.

She removed her blood soaked nightgown and began to wash up. Chloe was going to have to use the bathroom sink rather than the bathtub this time, as it was occupied by her sister, 7-year old Deborah Ann, who was face down in the now crimson water. Her skull fractured from repeated blows by the same claw hammer that had reigned down upon the head of their mother. Chloe calmly washed her face, dabbing lightly at the blood trickling from the wound on her head where the hammer had grazed her.

She quietly continued to compose herself as she got dressed. She fashioned her blonde hair, which fell just below her shoulders, in to two pigtails, put on her shoes and then made her way to the front door. It had been approximately an hour, give or take, since her mother had expired before her, a little more than two since her father had left for work. As Chloe exited the modest two-bedroom Los Angeles home she had shared with her family, she locked the door behind her.

It was sometime between 9am and 9:30am when Chloe arrived at the home of a neighbor and requested to use the telephone to call her father, who was working at a grocery near by. The neighbor kindly obliged and Chloe calmly, without any detail, told her father he needed to come home – right now. After hanging up Chloe walked back home and patiently waited for him to arrive. She was sitting on the front porch when her father came home and inquired as to what the urgency was that had brought him racing from work. Chloe’s unemotional response was simply “I think you better go in the kitchen and see.” She gave no sign, no warning as to the mayhem that had transpired that morning.

Barton Davis unlocked the door and stepped into what little more than 2-hours earlier had been a pristinely cared for home. He had kissed his wife and left for work right around 7am. Now he was returning at the behest of his eldest daughter in order to survey the scene of a murderous frenzy that had been unleashed only a short time before.

The horrified father went from room to room, viewing the carnage that had once been his family. Approaching the kitchen he found 3-year old Marquis lying in a pool of blood on the floor, almost blocking the entryway. Lying just behind him was 10-year old Daphne. Both children had been beaten in the head with the same hammer that wielded the blows against 7-year old Deborah Ann and the children’s 36-year old mother. All of the victims had received enough blows to render them unrecognizable.

Almost as quickly as he entered, Barton Davis ran screaming from his front door. And as he frantically paced up and down the walkway, screaming and crying that he “no longer had anything to live for” his only surviving daughter attempted to offer words of support; “Brace your self up, daddy. You mustn’t get excited. Come on, let’s go for a little walk.”

While Chloe tended to her father, it was the neighbor who summoned police to the little house next door.

Soon Chloe would be questioned by one of the most infamous police alienists in the history of crime investigation. She was the sole survivor, the only living witness. She would be expected to recount the story of exactly what took place that deadly April morning. And she would capture everyone’s attention when she did.

Part 2

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