DNA helps identify man accused of killing a ‘loving’ mom 36 years ago, NC police say

Thirty-six years after a mother was killed in North Carolina, her killer has been identified, police say.

Mary Davis disappeared on May 30, 1987, when she was last seen at the hardware store where she worked, according to a Feb. 7 news release from the Lexington Police Department. Her body was found the next day.

Davis had been strangled, police said, according to WXII.

Police collected DNA evidence from Davis in 1987, but until recent technological advancements, that evidence was “not viable,” according to the release. The new technology allowed the department to test the DNA and corroborate previous investigations.

After presenting the new evidence to District Attorney Garry Frank, officials confirmed Russell Grant Wood was responsible for Davis’ death, police said.

Wood died in 2013, according to police. If alive today, he would be charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree rape, according to the release.

Davis and Wood were ”associates,” but motive is unknown, Lexington Chief of Police Robby Rummage said at a news conference on Feb. 7, live streamed by WXII 12.

The news comes days before what would have been Davis’ 65th birthday, her family said during the news conference.

“Mary was a light in the world,” her niece, Lori Martin, said. “We were blessed to have her as long as we did. She was a loving mother, sister, aunt, wife and friend.”

Lexington is about 60 miles northeast of Charlotte.

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