“[You] ain’t got to show me no consideration or no respect”
Polly Hannah Klaas was born on 3 January 1981 in Fairfax, California. On 1 October 1993 she invited two friends, Kate McLean and Gillian Pelham, over for a slumber party at her home in Petaluma, 64 km (40 mi) from San Francisco. At 10.30 that night Polly left her bedroom during a board game called Perfect Match to fetch some sleeping bags when a man later identified as Richard Allen Davis approached her with a knife.
He said, “Don’t scream or I’ll cut your throats!” He tied up the two other girls, placed hoods over their heads and told them to count to 1,000. Polly was not so fortunate and he kidnapped her. At 10.45pm Polly’s mother Eve rang the police. At the time of the crime the California Highway Patrol already wanted Davis.
As he escaped with Polly, policemen Michael Rankin and Thomas Howard found Davis, whose car had become stuck in mud. Unaware of the warrant issued by the California Highway Patrol, they helped him free his car and let him go. It is thought that Davis, who had convictions for robbery, burglary, assault, kidnapping and a long history of violence against females, immediately drove to a remote area, killed Polly and buried her in a shallow grave.
On 19 October Davis was arrested for drink-driving but released after just five hours. On 28 November Polly’s body was found. On 30 November the police again arrested Davis during a routine stop and search. He had left a palm print at the Klaas home and was charged with the kidnap. On 4 December Davis confessed to the kidnapping and took police to Cloverdale, California, where they found Polly’s body.
Davis claimed that he had strangled the girl with a piece of cloth from behind. As he confessed he began crying and was comforted by a policeman but Davis responded, “[You] ain’t got to show me no consideration or no respect. I know I’m a piece of shit.”
Petaluma, California, USA
10.30pm Friday 1 October 1993
Davis was charged with first-degree murder with special circumstances. On 18 June 1996 the jury convicted Davis of first-degree murder with special circumstances. Just before he was sentenced to death Davis claimed that he did not sexually assault Polly because she had said, “‘Just don’t do me like my Dad.” Polly’s father, Marc Klaas, denied any sexual impropriety with his daughter. On 23 July 2006 Davis attempted suicide in his death row cell on San Quentin. He remains on death row.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Actress Winona Ryder was raised in Petaluma and she offered a $200,000 reward for Polly’s return. She later dedicated a film, Little Women, to memory of the victim.