Slayings of 2 lead cops to seek tips
Surveillance cameras are evidence of drug activity, a detective said.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A tilted "Home Sweet Home" sign hangs on the tiny ramshackle Valley Street house where a man and woman in their early 20s died from multiple gunshots.
Dead inside 1004 Valley early Monday were Edgar J. Davis Jr., 22, who lived at the East Side house, and his girlfriend, Simone Haskins, 20, of McGuffey Road. Police said the couple had a son together.
Patrolmen Mark Rakocy and Dave Wilson, the first officers on the scene, at 6:54 a.m., said they found the front door wide open. The victims were sprawled on the floor in the kitchen.
Capt. Kenneth Centorame, chief of detectives, declined to discuss a possible motive. He said the house had no gas or water and housing inspectors called to the scene placed red tags on it as well as three houses nearby. The tags mean the structures are uninhabitable.
Call with information
Anyone with information about the double homicide is encouraged to call detectives at (330) 742-8911.
Detective Sgt. Ron Rodway said Haskins' sister, concerned when she didn't come home Sunday night, discovered the bodies. He said there were "a lot of angles to look at" with the investigation, including an assault case pending against Davis.
Two guard dogs chained outside, a Rottweiler and pit bull, and a mixed-breed dog found running loose, were taken away by a deputy dog warden.
Surveillance cameras mounted outside 1004 Valley, with monitors inside, covered the Valley-Arch Street intersection, Rodway said. Just west of the intersection, not far from the crime scene, stands a bullet-riddled "No outlet" sign.
Rodway said the cameras were evidence of drug activity, and there have been such complaints about the place. Austintown police sent a dog to sniff the house for drugs; none were found, the detective said.
Brian McClain of Arch Street, Davis' cousin, rejected the drug angle, saying the surveillance cameras were a safety precaution, common in such neighborhoods.
McClain, 35, said he was asleep when his cousin stopped by around 11:30 p.m. Sunday. He wasn't sure what Davis wanted.
"He was a good dude; he wasn't a bad person," McClain said. "He took care of his son. I don't understand why someone would do this. He was a very good young man."
Found next door
Vanessa Payne described Davis, her nephew, as a good-hearted person who was crazy about Gussie McGrady, the grandmother who raised him.
Rodway said guns and ammunition were found in an empty house next door. He said a variety of items -- toys, bikes, lawnmowers and tools -- also found at 1000 Valley may be stolen.
Payne objected when police removed kids' bikes, saying the bikes belong to her nephews. She said the unoccupied house next door to her nephew's has been used as storage by family members.
Payne, who lives in the Lincoln Knolls area, acknowledged that she didn't know what was going on at Davis' house. "I have no idea; I don't come down here," she said.
In May 2005, Davis was sentenced in a cocaine trafficking case, records show. He received a one-year prison term with credit for 214 days spent in jail.
Around 9 a.m. Monday, Stephanie Payne, a cousin of Davis' who police said caused a commotion at the crime scene, was charged with disorderly conduct and served with an outstanding warrant. Municipal court records show the 28-year-old Valley Street woman failed to show in March for sentencing after a probation violation was established in a bad-check case.
Patrolman Michael Walker said in his report that he asked her three times to calm down but she continued to make terrorist threats, saying she'd go to school and kill the kids of the ones who killed her family member.
The deaths are the city's 24th and 25th homicides of the year, compared with 31 at this time last year.