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'It's like a bad dream': Family tries to make sense of child's starvation death

WARNER ROBINS — The 45-year-old grandmother was getting out of the car at the Food Depot off Watson Boulevard on Saturday afternoon when she got a devastating call from a Houston County sheriff’s investigator.

“I’m sorry to tell you, your grandchild has passed,” Patricia Williams recalled hearing the male voice on the other end of the cell phone say.

“I fell to my knees.”

Wednesday, four days later, she could not wrap her head around what has happened. Her son and his live-in girlfriend are accused of the starvation death of their 2-year-old child. She may never be able to fathom it.

“I’m just really not understanding none of this,” said Williams. “It’s like a bad dream to me.”

The emaciated body of D’Shawn Davis was found on the floor of the bedroom of the couple’s home at 104 Tiffany Place. Houston Healthcare emergency medical workers responded to a 911 call from his mother, who had reported the child was not breathing, authorities said. The toddler weighed 12 pounds, 6 ounces at his death.

His parents, Sade Shamon King, 23, and William Thomas Davis III, 25, were charged Monday with felony murder and cruelty to children in the boy’s death. Both were being held without bond Wednesday at the Houston County jail.

Why the parents allegedly neglected the child is not yet known, though Davis told authorities he was away during the day, often worked 12-hour shifts and had not noticed the child’s deteriorated condition, investigators said.

An angry, hurt and confused Williams said she asked her son, “How did you not see it? You should have paid attention!”

She said her son replied, “I don’t know, Momma.”

Williams said she also questioned King, who replied only, “I don’t know.”

Williams, who had no photos of her grandson, said she never got to see him. She didn’t even know King was pregnant until the day D’Shawn Davis was born. She kept in contact with her son mostly by cell phone. She would stop by their home occasionally while her son was at the body shop where he worked, but King either wasn’t home or didn’t answer. Williams said King kind of pushed the family away.

Williams has plenty of pictures of a smiling Teya Davis, the 5-year-old daughter of King and William Davis. Williams said the kindergartner had lived with her until about six weeks ago when the parents wanted the child home. Now, she’s back with her grandmother.

Williams said she would have rescued her grandson had she had any idea of what was going on. She could have cared for him, too, she said.

“That’s a hard question to answer,” Williams replied when asked if she’d stand by her son if she learned that he knew his child was starving. “You never know how you are going to react.”

She doesn’t think she will be able to handle it if it’s true that he knew.

“I’ve just got to be strong for Teya,” Williams said.

Early on in the couple’s relationship, when her son was 18 and his girlfriend was 16, they both lived with Williams — just long enough for Davis to find a job, Williams said. King’s family had put her out, Williams said.

Williams and her mother were making funeral arrangements Wednesday. D’Shawn Davis is the second child of the couple Williams will bury. Nearly three years ago, they did the same for 2-month-old K’ron Jarrell Davis, who died Oct. 25, 2007.

Sheriff’s investigators found that the infant’s death was the result of accidental asphyxiation from King sleeping with the child.

Angela Jackson, 41, the aunt of William Davis, said the whole family is in shock. “We, as the family, we want to know what happened,” said Jackson. She cannot understand why her nephew and his girlfriend didn’t turn to the family for help.

Toddler was rarely seen, neighbor says

Jo Ann Smith, who lives next door to King and Davis, said she had no idea what was going on inside the one-story home the couple rented. Smith is home most of the time after undergoing neck and back surgery.

Smith said she often chatted with the “very polite” Davis, who was gone a lot but was often working on a car in the garage when he was home. He’d offer to help out, cut the grass and such, when Smith’s husband was out of town for work. He even meticulously mowed the lawn of Smith’s son who also lives on Tiffany Place, going over it twice.

Smith said she didn’t see King much — until the past two weeks when the 5-year-old daughter came home. She would walk with the little girl back from the bus stop in the afternoon.

Before then the mother seldom left the house, only to check the mailbox now and then, said Smith, who never saw King go to get groceries. Her husband always brought them home. Smith said she never saw the couple go out together or have friends over.

Smith only saw the little boy when the couple first moved in about a year-and-a-half ago. She never saw the boy outside.

Smith said she’d ask Davis from time to time about his son. He’d reply that he was fine. She’d say she hadn’t seen him or his mom. Davis would shrug it off, “It’s too hot.”

Smith was at home when the ambulance and fire truck pulled up to the couple’s house Saturday afternoon. She said she saw the covered body of a child carried from the home on a stretcher. She saw Davis arrive in his car, jump out and then fall to the ground as he took in what was happening.

Smith later saw him sitting by himself in a chair outside the home, and she attempted to comfort him. Smith recalled him saying only, “My baby.”

She was in the couple’s home as an investigator talked with the mother. Smith recalled hearing King tell the investigator, “He was fine this morning. I fed him grits for breakfast.”

Smith walked into the bedroom of the little girl, who was watching Nickelodeon, asked her mother if she could take the girl over to her home, and there, gave her something to eat as she waited for Williams, who was on the way to get the child.

Smith was also home Monday when one unmarked car, followed by four marked police cars, broke the crime scene tape stretched around the home and across the driveway. She saw two uniformed officers go toward the back, two uniformed officers to the side and two plainclothes officers to the front. She watched police lead away the couple, who showed no emotion, in handcuffs.

She recalled wanting Davis to look up. She wanted to ask him, “Why?”

How did he not know his child was not being fed? Smith asked. And if King was depressed, had some sort of mental illness, why didn’t he get her help? Smith questioned.

Smith fed the couple’s two dogs, Diamond and the other she called Puppy, after the couple was taken off to jail.

“That’s what’s so crazy about this,” Smith said. “There’s a bag of dog food, about half full, on the back porch.

Yet, there wasn’t enough food for the child? Smith asked.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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