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Suspect In Wife’s 1980 Death Caught in American Samoa

January 7, 1989 GMT

LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ A tip prompted by a television show led to the South Pacific arrest of a fugitive charged with poisoning his wife eight years ago in Michigan, officials report.

David Richard Davis, 44, was apprehended without incident by authorities Friday on the island of American Samoa, Michigan State Police and the FBI announced Friday.

An unidentified tipster who saw NBC-TV’s ″Unsolved Mysteries″ in the United States on Dec. 28 contacted police Tuesday, said Detective Sgt. Donald Brooks, of the State Police. The show was aired the next evening in Samoa.

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Davis is accused of killing his wife, Shannon Mohr Davis, in 1980 with a fatal injection on the couple’s farm in Wright Township in Hillsdale County, about 100 miles southwest of Detroit.

At the time, Davis told police that his wife fell off a horse, hit her head and died. Medical examiners, however, found in her body traces of a muscle relaxant that is nearly impossible to detect.

They also found Davis had taken out several insurance policies worth a total of $250,000 just before his wife’s death.

Shannon Davis’ father, Robert Mohr, said in a telephone interview from his Toledo, Ohio, home that he hadn’t lost hope that Davis would be apprehended some day.

″We’ve never, ever given up hope. We just figured one day he would make a mistake,″ said Mohr.

Davis was arrested at the airport in Pago Pago, the American Samoa capital and business center of the territory, about 2,300 miles south of Hawaii. In addition to the first-degree murder charge in Hillsdale County, he was charged with federal flight to avoid prosecution.

Authorities said Davis was a pilot for several island airlines.

FBI spokesman Harlan Frymire said Davis’ arrest was uneventful.

″He at first denied his identity,″ Frymire said. ″By a stroke of luck, Davis didn’t see the show.″

Davis was using the name David Myer Bell in Samoa, Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley said. He added it was uncertain how long it would take before Davis was returned to Michigan. Davis could waive extradition.

Frymire said Davis, who had taken a new identity and had remarried, lived in American Samoa for the past four years.

″He wasn’t your typical fugitive,″ he said. ″Apparently, he had posed as a doctor, nurse and even as a harpsichord player.″

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Frymire said Davis was expected to be brought to Honolulu on Sunday. He said Davis probably would be arraigned before a U.S. magistrate on Monday.

American Samoa is the only U.S. territory south of the equator. An estimated 38,000 people live in its seven islands. Davis was last seen in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Dec. 24, 1981.