My name is Reginald Harmon Davies, although you might remember me as Demon Davies, the Butcher of Broad Street. I was convicted of murdering twenty-three people over a five year period in central Ohio back in 1998.
My arrest and trial made all the major news outlets, but that was twenty years ago. When I die, I probably won’t even get a name drop on the evening news. Maybe a blurb in the crawl while the sports anchor reads basketball scores, but that’s about it.
I was just informed that my last appeal has been denied. According to the guards I have about 3 hours until they inject me with the blue juice cocktail that will stop my heart. One final trip to the crematorium and then I’m a pile of ash, nothing more.
If you’re reading this, it means my lawyer followed my instructions to get my story out. This isn’t a plea for mercy or a claim of innocence. I am a remorseless monster; I have earned this fate. But I do have one last confession to make before I go. My final victim, one that didn’t make the papers. One the cops didn’t pin on me.
This is about Anna, if that’s even her true name. To be honest there’s much about my encounter with her that frightens me even more than the needle that’s about to go into my arm. Lovely young Anna, and the ride we never took.
(While reading my confession, if you would indulge me in performing one last experiment I would be grateful. Eternally so, as it may be. I’m already dead.
When prompted, I want you track how many breaths you take as you read. That’s it. Breathe as often as you feel the need, but count them with your fingers or mark them on a piece of paper, either works. Just wait until I prompt you to begin counting.
It’s a simple enough task. Plus if you do this, I promise you will learn something about yourself when we reach the end of my story.)
I met Anna in the parking lot outside of a Kroger near Bexley, Ohio on a cold rainy night in November of 1996. It was around 3am, I had just finished work and had stopped to buy ice cream for my daughter’s 7th birthday party on the following weekend.
I’ve forgotten many things over the years, but I’ll never forget that rain. Cold, biting, near freezing, the type of rain that feels like ice picks against your skin. Not the type of weather where you’d expect to see a girl standing all alone late at night.
Anna was wearing a thin light blue cotton dress that clung to her pale skin, far too little clothing for as cold of a night as it was. Her wet black hair hung over her face as she held her shoulders, shivering in the night as she stood under a lamp post next to the cart corral near the back of the lot.
She didn’t look any older than fifteen, but I’m a horrible judge of age. Capital University was just down the road, so she could’ve been a student there. Or a professor; like I said, I’m a horrible judge of age.
I wasn’t hunting that night, but seeing her alone triggered my predator instinct. I approached her and waved hello, offering as warm a smile as I could muster considering the weather.
“Are you okay?” I asked as I walked closer. I could see the goosebumps on her bare arms and legs. I remember wondering if there was any way of preserving those when I peeled her skin off her later.
She smiled through a shiver. “Can you help me? I got lost walking home from a party when this rain hit. I left in a hurry, so I didn’t bring my coat. Can you let me in your car?”
Her teeth chattered as she smiled again, shivering as a cold wind kicked up.
“I’m Anna, by the way,” she said, then added, “with two N’s.”
I couldn’t pinpoint why just yet, but a strange feeling washed over me. This felt wrong. Too easy.
Looking back, it probably how she was offering too much information before it was asked. Maybe it was her own discomfort or her way of trying to set me at ease considering the odd nature of our meeting. Whatever it was, her efforts to comfort me by explaining why she was alone in that parking lot at 3am only led to more uneasiness on my part.
“Which direction are you headed?” I asked.
“Back that way,” she said, throwing her head in the direction of the campus. “Which car is yours? Just let me in, I’ve been shivering out here for hours.”
She smiled again, taking a step closer. I took a step back.
I had a knife hanging from my belt and a gun in my inside jacket pocket. I was far bigger than her and trained in hand to hand combat, so I shouldn’t have had any doubts that I could overpower her should the need come.
But at that moment, I wasn’t so sure. Something was off.
It wasn’t how she was asking, or why she was asking that bothered me. It was what she was asking for.
She wasn’t asking for a ride; she was asking me to let her into my car.
Anna must’ve sensed my apprehension because she offered even more information, seeming to pick the questions from my mind before I could ask them.
“I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t go in the store,” she said. “Just let me in, please? Before I catch pneumonia?”
The hair on the back of my neck stood up, but not from the rain. I was a hunter, an apex predator, but I did not feel in control of this situation. I felt like prey, just before the snare tightened around my neck.
When I was on the hunt, I took care to stalk my victim from a distance for many days, learning their habits and finding the right moment to approach them. You might think I did most of my work at night, but the truth is I hunted in broad daylight, approaching my targets in crowded places. Places where they felt safe. It was disarming.
Everything about Anna’s appearance should have put me at ease. A young girl, alone, cold. Easy pickings, right? She should’ve seemed helpless or scared, but nothing about her demeanor gave me any indication that she was either of those.
She was in control of the situation, and doing her best to put me in my comfort zone. After all, I was a predator. The best way to hunt a predator was to make yourself look like prey. And that’s exactly what Anna was trying to do to me. It made me wonder if she had been stalking me prior to our meeting that night.
My jacket was zipped, so I shifted the ice cream to my other hand and unbuckled the strap on my knife.
Anna grew annoyed by my indecision to take the bait, letting out a frustrated sigh.
“Come on man, will you let me in or not?” she pouted.
She threw her hair back, looking up at me for the first time.
I felt the overwhelming urge to scream but I was paralyzed in fear, unable to speak or move. It was like sleep paralysis, if you’ve ever experienced that. But I was wide awake, standing upright. All I could muster was a low whimper between my teeth.
(Are you ready for our experiment? Take a deep breath and start counting.)
Her eyes. They were all white, like a marble statue in a museum. No pupils or irises, just a pair of dull white orbs staring back at me with a tiny black pin pricks in the middle.
The look on my face must’ve given me away because her eyes shifted down, away from me. She kicked her foot at a rock on the ground as she giggled. Her intent may have been to disarm me with innocence, proving herself an easy target, but it just creeped me out even more.
“Big strong man like you, afraid of a little girl like me?” she asked. “Please, I’m so cold, just let me in. I won’t hurt you.”
My fear paralysis gave way. My heart pounded in my chest, but I could move again. I was in the snare, but as long as I kept her out of my car I wasn’t too far in to escape.
I turned and walked to my car, hurrying my step. She followed after me.
“Please mister, let me in. There’s no one else, you’re my only hope.”
I walked faster. I heard the clack of her heels as she picked up her pace. I shifted my keys to my other hand and placed my right hand on the hilt of my knife, ready to draw.
“You don’t want to ride with me,” I said, without turning around. “My rides don’t end well.”
“How about you just let me sit in your car to warm up? No driving, just let me in and turn on the heat, please that’s all I ask!”
I took off in a dead sprint to my car, fumbling with the key as I tried to work it into the lock. She took off after me, catching up just as I got the door open and flung my purchases into the passenger seat.
I felt the cold grip of her hand on my elbow. I spun around, acting on instinct as I drew my knife and buried it deep into the middle of her chest.
(Are you still counting your breaths? Good. Keep going, you’ll see how important this is when we reach the end.)
Anna didn’t cry out. She didn’t struggle. She sucked in a gurgling breath and coughed as she clutched her hands at the knife’s handle. Green bile looking blood dripped down the edge of her mouth and stained her teeth as she stared at me, unblinking with those pin pricked marble eyes.
She dropped to the ground, still smiling. She coughed up some more green blood as she tried to speak.
“I almost made it. I almost had you,” she said, giggling in between raspy coughs.
Her giggling grew louder until she was laughing, throwing her head back as the rain washed over her face.
I left my knife and hopped into the car, pulling the door shut and locking it.
When I looked up, I saw them.
Two more dark haired kids standing on the passenger side of the car. Both the same indiscriminate age as Anna, both with milky white eyes with tiny black pin pricks in the center.
The shorter of the two, a boy, leaned his face against the passenger window.
“Can you let us in? It’s so cold out here,” he said. He smiled through chattering teeth.
I reaching over and slammed my fingers on the lock button. It was already locked, but couldn’t be too careful.
“Please?” The taller one added as a grin spread across his face. His teeth looked sharper than they had any business being.
I didn’t reply. I started the car and peeled out of the parking space. Before exiting the grocery store parking lot I took one last look back in the rear-view mirror. The two boys were dragging Anna’s body into the trees along the side of the store.
(Keep counting, it’ll be worth it when we get to the end, I promise.)
The next day my knife was found. No Anna, no green blood. But it still had my prints, and it didn’t take long for investigators to link it to a string of unsolved homicides. I ended up missing my daughter’s birthday party that weekend, and every one since.
I don’t know what they were, and I haven’t heard of anyone else who’ve crossed path with the likes of Anna and her two friends. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I had let Anna into my car, I only know the fear I felt as I stared into those milky white eyes. I don’t think it would’ve ended well.
I’ve had twenty years to think about Anna and our chance meeting that night in the Kroger parking lot. I had more in common with her than any of my other victims. It’s why I’ve kept her secret for this long. Anna was a hunter, like me. And even though she never got into my car that night, she did have a hand in my death twenty years later.
Let me end this with a final bit of warning, my parting wisdom to the world.
In my five years of hunting, the most important thing I learned is that it doesn’t take much to get people to do what you want, even when they have nothing to gain from it. People in general are accommodating, docile creatures that will do what’s asked of them, some without question or a second thought.
I know what you’re thinking. Not me. You’re too smart to fall for anything like that.
If that’s true, then why are you still counting your breaths? Because I asked? Because you thought you’d get something out of it in the end?
Like I said, it doesn’t take much to get people to do what you want.
Whether you counted the whole time or just a few breaths, the only thing you’ve learned is how lucky you are that you never met someone like me. Or Anna.
If you had, you would’ve stopped breathing long before you had a chance to read this.
Reginald Harmon Davies, 63, died by lethal injection on Monday October 15, 2018.
Dubbed by the media as the ‘Butcher of Broad Street’ during his much publicized trial in 1998, Davies was found guilty on 23 counts of first degree murder. According to court documents and records from the trial, Davies mutilated his victims while they were still alive in the basement of his home in Worthington in a soundproof room below his daughter’s bedroom.
Along with prison personnel, 6 witnesses and 4 members of the press traveled to the execution at the state prison in Lucasville, about 80 miles south of Columbus.
He offered no last words as he was strapped to the lethal injection table. His lips moved in silent prayer as the drug cocktail was injected into his veins.
The injection was administered by prison officials at 11:45 am. After the injection, witnesses reported hearing Davies gasp several times and, at multiple points, screamed out “Anna please no” before going limp on the table. He was pronounced dead at 11:54 am.