Published June 26, 2007
| FOX Fan
Monday, June 25
NORTH CANTON, OHIO — It was by far one of the most dramatic moments I've seen inside a courtroom. The arraignment of Bobby Cutts Jr. on double murder charges in the Jessie Davis case was filled with emotion, tension and tears. Cutts appeared before a Canton Municipal Court judge around 3 p.m. today to hear the charges against him. He was escorted into what looked like an alley behind a big window with white brick walls in the back. The space between the glass and wall was only a few feet deep. Minutes before deputies led in Cutts, reporters and cameramen positioned themselves inside the courtroom. I was really surprised to see how many still photographers were allowed inside. We had a "pool" camera so only one video camera would be there, and so the courtroom wouldn't be overcrowded — but the still photogs were clustered up in front of the rail in the front row, which led to what felt like a lot of chaos once the proceedings began.
Much to our surprise, Jessie Davis' mom, sister and aunt came into the courtroom to be there for the arraignment. We had been told by the attorney for Jessie's mother, Patty Porter, that they wouldn't be there. It was just too soon … too hard. Jessie's body had just been found two days ago in a shallow grave in a national forest 22 miles away from where the pregnant woman lived. The three women came in and sat on the right side of the courtroom. Bobby Cutts Jr.'s family sat on the left side of the courtroom. The media sat in the middle section. I was in the front row along with "America's Newsroom" co-host Megyn Kelly and "On the Record" producer Steph Watts. As we all waited for the arraignment to begin, the attorney for Jessie's family asked three of the reporters in our row if they would mind trading spots with them. We knew that meant Jessie's family wanted to face Bobby Cutts Jr. head-on; they didn't want an obstructed view.
As Jessie's family members took a deep breath, Cutts was led into the little glass box wearing a red jail jumpsuit. The moment that was already thick with tension became even more intense when Patty Porter grabbed her daughter Whitney's hand and stood up in the middle of our aisle. She inched forward to the rail that separated the seats and the area where the lawyers sit — the well of the court for legal eagles. She stood up strong. She held her ground. She made sure that Bobby Cutts Jr. could see her through the thick glass window. And he looked back. My eyes were darting back and forth between his face, and Patty's. I couldn't believe she could do what she was doing just two days after learning such devastating news. After the court proceedings, she told reporters, "I'm not sitting when I see Bobby Cutts, I wanted to make sure he knew I was there ... absolutely he saw me." Cutts family members also stood up, and in large numbers. It felt like the entire left side of the courtroom was standing. I looked back to see them all looking past Patty Porter and to Bobby behind the glass, too. Bobby was led out, then his high school friend was called in.
Porter did the same when Myisha Ferrell faced the judge. She had sat back down after the man, who is accused of killing her daughter and unborn grandchild, left the box, then, she stood once again. She stared, and didn't move. Myisha looked back too, but not for long. She is accused of obstructing justice in the investigation to find Jessie. Court documents released today show that investigators believe she lied to them on, or about, June 15 regarding the case. That's the same day that Patty Porter made that chilling 9-1-1 call to report her daughter missing. Bond was set at $5 million for Cutts; $500,000 for Ferrell. Both will be back in court July 2nd for their next court appearance.
In taking a closer look at the court documents, the criminal complaint shows that Bobby Cutts Jr. was arrested at 4500 Atlantic Blvd. NE at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. That address is the Stark County Sheriff's Office. That's pretty interesting. That means that he was with investigators right around the same time Jessie Davis' body was found. There has been speculation that he told investigators where to find her, and that there has been some kind of deal cut. That is still unknown, but the location of his arrest certainly seems to indicate that he turned himself in.
The medical examiner in the case has said that they don't expect to release a cause of death for a week or more. Jessie's body, they say, was in an advanced state of decomposition.
I got off the phone just a while ago with Rick Pitinii, Porter's attorney. I asked again how Blake, Jessie's two-year-old son, is doing, and what would happen with him with custody. He told me that the family had been granted temporary custody of Blake today, and that they have also filed for full custodial today as well. It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear Porter say that Blake has been carrying around an old cell phone, pretending that he's calling Mommy in heaven. He's been told that she has "gone to be with Jesus." The court documents reveal also that investigators believe Bobby Cutts Jr. killed Jessie in the house. Blake has told his family, "Mommy broke the table … Mommy's in the rug." Whatever that little boy saw and heard that night is unimaginable.
A lot of people have been asking me how they can send contributions to Blake, and to Jessie's family. We have learned that the First Merit Bank in Ohio has established a "Patty Porter/Blake Davis Fund." It's not listed on the Web site, but if you call one of the local branches, they can help direct any questions. Rick Pitinii told me that people could send cards to Patty and the family to his office:
101 Central Plaza
Canton, Ohio 44702
We will continue to track the ongoing developments in the case. As the tears came for Patty and Whitney today at a news conference after the arraignment, they were asked what they wanted in this case now. They said they don't want vengeance. They want justice.
I hope they get that.
The courthouse where Bobby Cutts Jr. and his high school friend Myisha Ferrell will appear is swarming with camera crews setting up satellite feeds for today's proceedings. It is dark and cool outside, but soon the sun will be up, and lawyers and prosecutors will arrive to start the first court appearances for the two people who investigators allege, saw Jessie Davis last before she was buried in a shallow grave.
Bobby Cutts Jr. — the married Canton police officer who fathered Jessie's two-year-old little boy Blake and believed to be the father of Jessie's unborn baby girl — will be arraigned on double murder charges. His friend from high school, Myisha Ferrell was arrested yesterday for obstruction of justice and more charges could be coming.
While authorities won't reveal exactly what they think Myisha did, it is believed that she helped Bobby Cutts Jr. dispose of Jessie's body in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Jessie's body, still carrying her 9-month-old fetus, was found buried in the Hampton Hills Metro Park section of the National Park, in an area called "Top O' The World" because of it's high elevation.
On Saturday, I was reporting at the Greentown Volunteer Fire Department on Saturday, where volunteers gathered to organize the searches. It was here that they heard the grim news that the search was over, and that Jessie's body was found in an area that had not been searched.
Many of the volunteers speculated how investigators found her body. According to a friend of Cutts, who called a local news anchor, Cutts told investigators where to find Jessie's body, and that it "wasn't his doing" — that he panicked and buried the body because he was afraid no one would believe him.
The coroner positively identified the body of Jessie Marie Davis, and now the family and community is in a holding pattern of more potential bad news to come: cause of death. If what the reports say is true about Bobby and his friend burying her body, you can't help but wonder ... what were they thinking? What could have led to the decision for Cutts and Ferrell to take Davis' body out of her house, while her two-year-old son sat alone in his bedroom, and drive her into the woods and put her in the ground? Even IF there was some kind of accident or medical problem ... how could someone let her family and her friends go through such a gut-wrenching scare and search, only to find out the worst? No one is buying this theory here in Canton, of course.
The hearings of Cutts and Ferrell are just a few hours away. I just talked to the Chief of Police for Canton, Dean McKimm, who told me that it's been hard on his department that one of his officers is accused of such a horrific crime. He says his department will be starting the process of moving Cutts from paid administrative leave to suspension without pay.
I just heard the family of Jessie Davis will NOT be coming to court today. It's understandable — I can't even imagine what her mother and family must be going through. All I can hear in my head is the sound of that 9-1-1 tape and how scared she was when she found her daughter's house ransacked, and Jessie gone with the smell of bleach all over her bedroom floor.
Sunday, June 24
Stark County Sheriff's Department — We are doing our live shots from here today. Bobby Cutts Jr. is just feet away from me in the Stark County Jail. I keep looking at the building that holds inmates, wondering what he must be thinking in there, and more importantly, what he was thinking, if he did this. The coroner has positively identified the bodies found in the woods as that of Jessie Davis and her unborn child, whom she planned to name Chloe. I talked to a local news anchor last night who took a call from a close friend of Cutts yesterday afternoon. That friend told the news anchor that Cutts suddenly told his family that he was sorry for all that he had put them through, and that he did have something to do with her disappearance — but that he did not harm Jessie. The friend said Cutts told them Jessie didn't look well and died. He said he panicked, thinking no one would believe him. He says he called a friend of his from high school, who helped him. That friend is Myisha Ferrel. FBI agents reportedly rammed her door down last night to serve a search warrant that stated they were going to be looking for pillows, bed sheets, a cell phone, cleaning supplies and DNA evidence. We have heard that she had been questioned several times by investigators, but was released by authorities. A neighbor told our crew on scene that she left the house with an armload of things like a broom, dustpan and garbage bags. The FBI showed up again looking for her, and they can't seem to locate her. Interesting development.
Saturday, June 23
In a second, everything changed.
The massive, organized, passionate search for nine-month pregnant Jessie Davis came to a screeching halt, as news quickly spread Saturday that investigators were about to make an "important announcement." Hundreds of volunteers, who were taking part in the ground search for Jessie, were told to turn around and come back to fire station. Everyone knew the news was not going to be good.
I was just pulling up to the Stark County Sheriff's station to meet up with our FOX News crew when the news broke. Steve Brown, who had been doing live shots, was about to go on live with the story. We had heard that there would also be a news conference at the fire station where the volunteers were gathered, so I quickly drove with our producer Melanie Schuman to that location to start talking to people. As we pulled up, I saw people walking away in tears; some of them hugging, others just staring off into space looking stunned. Our FOX News satellite truck operator had a TV monitor set up outside the truck so that we could see our air live. A crowd of volunteers formed a half-moon-shaped cluster around the little monitor to watch the news conference. As the FBI announced the find of the bodies, and the arrest of Bobby Cutts Jr., heads dropped, tears came and some volunteers went over to the sign-in tables and tore down the signs. One of the volunteers, who didn't know Jessie Davis or her family, told me that she had just wanted to help find her ... and find her alive. She is a mother, and was re-living what the last few days of pregnancy are like. She said she was filled with such excitement, and talked about those days that lead up to delivery as being the most joyful time, just waiting for your baby to come into the world. I asked her what she would do now with all that energy she had put into the effort to find Jessie, and she said she would go home and pray — and cry for the family.
Tuesday, June 19
It's now 11:30 a.m. I just got off the phone with the captain, who says they have nothing new, and wouldn't comment about the search at the father's house last night. Bobby Cutts Jr., the father of Jessie's baby, has been cooperating with investigators. FBI agents were at his house with a K-9 unit, and were seen taking out potential evidence. It could just be an effort to clear him, or something more serious. Eyebrows have been raised because he is a married father of two (his wife reportedly knows about the on-again, off-again relationship with Jessie) and today we are learning that in 1998 he was convicted of aggravated criminal trespass for breaking into another woman's home, who he has another child with.
Right now Jessie's mom and sisters are inside the sheriff’s station talking with investigators ... they aren't saying what they are talking about inside. It just started to pour here, and its 85 degrees! Greta just pulled up and is about to hit the ground running with her camera crew, and I know she has a lot of interesting things planned for Tuesday night's show ... so be sure to watch.
It's now 12:30 p.m. and Patty just came out of sheriff's station. She's about to do a live hit with Jon Scott; I just asked her what she was doing inside, and she said one of her daughters (Jessie is one of seven) was being interviewed by the FBI. She also told me that she just gave the FBI film to be developed that had fresh pictures of Jessie from her baby shower last weekend.
Monday, June 18
When I arrived at the home of Jessie Davis last night, the FBI Crime Scene Unit was taking out bags and boxes from her house. It’s always a gut-wrenching feeling when you watch authorities pull out clues as to what could have happened to someone's daughter, mother, or friend.
The 26-year-old mother of a two-year-old boy was due to give birth any day now to a baby girl she plans on naming Chloe. Her family says Jessie's suitcase was packed for the hospital and the new baby's little clothes were freshly hung in the closet on satin hangers.
Jessie was in good spirits when she last phoned her mother, Patty Porter, on Wednesday night, at 9:20 p.m. By Friday morning, Jessie's mother became alarmed that she had not heard from her daughter and went to check on her. That's when she found her two-year-old grandson alone in a dirty diaper; Jessie was no where to be found. Her bedroom looked like there was some kind of struggle; the mattress was askew, the top sheet and comforter gone. Bleach was spilled all over the floor.
The 9-1-1 call released by investigators is chilling. You can hear the panic and fear in Jessie's mother's voice as she talks to the operator. When asked if Jessie left her son home alone, Patty yelled, "She didn't leave him alone! My God, something is WRONG!"
Last night, outside Jessie's house, two women sat in their cars waiting to talk to any police officer that would come out. They were locals who were helping to search the area. This neighborhood is quaint and upscale, with big two-story homes, American flags at every corner, kids on bikes, Moms and Dads on front porches, and neighbors watering their lawns. The landscape is lush, with trees, and the hillsides are plump with big green shrubs. It's beautiful, but a prime place to hide someone for sure.
One of the women is a postal worker who knows the neighborhood well. She remembered there is a coal mine tucked away in the nearby woods and thought that would be a good place to poke around. She went and found a pink top and grey stretch pants that were burned around the edges. They didn't know what to do with the clothes, so they brought them to the house. Jessie's sister drove up while this was happening, and heard that someone may have found evidence. She started yelling, "Why would someone touch evidence! WHO moved it?"
Clearly upset, she walked over to the grass across the street to look at the clothes that were laid out on the lawn. She doubled over and started wailing and said she thought they were Jessie's. As she was crying and being supported by another woman, the sheriff's captain came out of the house with members of the FBI. Together, the crime scene unit put on their blue gloves and carefully placed the clothes in evidence bags, and took the sister and another woman into the house. They asked the women in the cars who found the clothes to go with them too. Later, the captain came out to tell us that after the sister calmed down, and when she took a closer look, she didn’t think the clothes were Jessie's. The officers later asked the ladies to please not touch evidence, and if they find anything again, to call police immediately. After that bit of excitement, the FBI investigators kept coming out of the house with more evidence bags and tackle box looking cases (their crime scene tools), then loaded them up and took off at 8:40 p.m.
Later, at the sheriff's office, Jessie's mom told me that she didn't think anything was wrong with Jessie the last night she talked to her. She was upbeat, in a good mood and happy. Her sister, Whitney, talked to her on Wednesday afternoon and gave the same report. Jessie was a woman of routine — they said she always took her gold hoop earrings out and put them on the counter, which is right where they were. She even had her coffeemaker ready to brew in the morning.
Her sister said the only clothing missing out of the house were the pink stretch Victoria Secret pants she gave her two weeks ago and a white spaghetti strapped long cami that read, "Ohhh laaa laaa" around the belly. She said she wore it all the time and that it’s now gone.
Also worthy to note: She is no longer 135 pounds, but now 170 pounds, and has more brown hair than blonde, a correction made by the family after Jessie's description was first issued.
Jessie's mother is devastated by her daughter's disappearance; she says she believes she's alive, and was taken for her baby. She wants the focus to be on finding her, not accusing anyone right now. Neighbors tell me that no one is sleeping well these days on the block. They didn't hear anything that night. They said she really kept to herself, and didn't know her that well. They just want her home so she can deliver her baby.
Laura Ingle has been a correspondent with FNC since 2005, and most recently reported for the Gerardo At Large syndicated news magazine program. She currently is based in New York.