Overwhelming grief has overtaken Carrollton in suburban Dallas after the community found out that 16-year-old Shania Gray was killed by the man who raped her to prevent her from testifying against him in his upcoming trial.
Franklin Davis, 30, is being held on a $2 million bond after confessing to the murder of Shania Gray. But it is the inadequacy of the bonding process that led to the girl’s slaying, since Davis—who had threatened to kill the girl if she told anyone about the rapes—was allowed to go free after posting bond last year when he was arrested for raping her four times in 2010 when she was just 14.
The girl’s murder will prove especially chilling to parents across the country because Davis raped Shania when he hired her as a babysitter for his two children. That is a deep-seated fear of every parent who allows their young teenage daughter to babysit outside the home.
Gray, a student athlete at Hebron High School, was killed last Thursday and her body was found by a cyclist along the Trinity River. She had just been attending Hebron for two days, after transferring from Mesquite’s Horn High School.
In a jailhouse interview with WFAA-TV, Davis said he tracked Gray down because he wanted to prove his innocence in the sexual assault case.
“I needed to get some kind of evidence, some kind of proof myself to show I did not have sex with her and that she’s lying,” Davis told the television station. He said he didn’t intend to harm Gray but was overcome in the moment.
“I was fighting demons,” Davis told the station. “It was like a different person was in me. It wasn’t me.”
In his confession to police, Davis said he picked up the girl on Thursday at her school after arranging a meeting by posing as another teen on a social media site and winning her trust. He used a prepaid phone to call her and set the meeting up. He said she was surprised to see him when he showed up at her school, but she got in the car with him. She spotted his .380 pistol while he drove and asked if he was going to hurt her. He told her he just wanted to talk about the case. But he lied. Once he reached Trinity River, he led her down a trail and shot her twice with the pistol.
He told police that she asked him “Why, Wish?” using his nickname, as she fell into the river, still alive.
Davis then stepped on her neck until she stopped breathing.
A spokeswoman for the Gray family, Sherry Ramsey, told The Dallas Morning News that the teen declined many requests from Davis to babysit for his two kids and eventually told her grandmother that Davis had raped her. After the crime was reported to Mesquite police, Davis was charged with four counts of sexual assault of a child. The trial was scheduled to start next month.
Ramsey said Davis had warned Gray he would kill her if she told anyone about the assault.
At a candlelight vigil for her outside of her former school at 7 p.m. Monday night, her stepfather Dwayne James told the crowd, “Thank all of you. It means a lot to me and my family, and it means a whole lot to Shania. God bless Shania.”
“I miss Shania so much. It’s just not fun without her here, because she made everyone laugh and was just so happy. It’s going to be so different without her here,” said 10th-grader Destinee Harris, who fought back tears of grief before school. She said Gray had a huge effect on her friends in her two years at Horn High.
“I’ll miss her smile,” she said. “She always came to class smiling. She was just so energetic. She loved to sing. She was a beautiful singer.”