Death of Woman Found Buried in Cascades Stumps Detectives, But They Have Theories

Peter Talbot / The News Tribune

More than two years have passed since the body of a missing Auburn woman was found buried in the Cascade mountains of King County, days after her car was torched in downtown Tacoma.

The killing has stumped Tacoma detectives determined to find who is responsible, but they have theories about how Diana Davis, a part-time nurse who led a peaceful life became a victim of homicide.

“A random act of violence, you’re not going to go through that level of planning to hide it,” lead investigator Jack Nasworthy told a room of reporters Friday at Tacoma Police Department headquarters. “This person is concerned enough that he goes to extreme measures to destroy evidence.”

Tacoma detectives are hoping that renewed media coverage of the cold case will lead to someone coming forward with more information.

Davis, 50, was last seen alive in Tacoma’s Proctor District, tending to her plot of a community garden July 27, 2020. Nasworthy said investigators determined she went to a hardware store afterward and walked around for about 45 minutes without buying anything. Then, she drove to downtown Seattle, close to Lumen Field.

Nasworthy said Davis had a boyfriend in Pierce County at the time, but the two had an open relationship, and Davis had been meeting men on dating websites.

“Our working theory is that she arranged to meet someone in Seattle the night she disappeared,” Nasworthy said. “But her cell phone was never recovered, so we don’t know who she was contacting.”

The woman’s boyfriend reached out to family members in the days that followed because she wasn’t returning his calls. On July 29, Tacoma police responded to a car fire in the 1600 block of Court E. The license plates had been removed, but the Chevy Impala was registered to Davis. Her purse was in the car.

A week after the fire, Aug. 5, Nasworthy said a person walking dogs near Snoqualmie Pass off a U.S. Forest Service road was led to Davis’ remains by a dog. King County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded. The county’s medical examiner identified the woman, but due to the condition of her remains, her body was sent to a forensic anthropologist for further investigation. Nasworthy said Davis’ cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries to the face.

When a longtime friend of Davis, Monica Joseph, got a call about what happened, she said she couldn’t believe it. Joseph also spoke with reporters Friday at TPD headquarters. She said she felt angry about her friend’s death and that she thinks about her every day.

“It’s just time for this to come to an end,” Joseph said. “Whatever information that you have that you want to share or could share, Diana deserves justice. What happened to her, she didn’t deserve it.”

Tacoma detectives don’t have much to work with, but Nasworthy said the Washington State Patrol obtained partial DNA of a male on Davis’ remains whom investigators believe to be her killer.

Nasworthy said he’s hoping someone who knows which dating apps or websites Davis used will come forward. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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