Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

T. Cullen Davis: The Best Justice Money Can Buy

Texas Justice

Davis announced shortly after his second acquittal that he was turning his life over to Jesus. With the help of a Dallas evangelist he smashed more than a million dollars worth of jade, ivory and gold objects because they honored what he said were false gods.

He still had a significant cash fortune and the Mockingbird Lane mansion, but things were about to change for Cullen.

Karen Davis (left) with husband Cullen
Karen Davis (left) with husband Cullen (AP/Wide World)
By the mid-1980s, Cullen was flat broke. Kendavis Industries had taken a dive during the recession of the early 1980s and Cullen had blown some $40 million in bad real estate deals. In 1986, he filed for personal bankruptcy, listing assets of $600,000 and debts of more than $230 million.

The former Forbes 400 member took a job on his brothers payroll for $25,000 a year and Karen Davis, his alibi-turned-wife, returned to school teaching to make ends meet.

The Lord has sustained me through this, he said. I am not worried about the outcome. He can make it go, and He can make it come back.

Priscilla Davis
Priscilla Davis, before she passed away from cancer

Priscilla also hit on hard times and when she died in 2001 from breast cancer, she was living in a one-bedroom apartment far from the limelight. She was 59 years old. She had never remarried and as a persona non grata on the celebrity circuit, she lived a relatively quiet, if not despondent, life. Priscilla was mourned by many who came to know her during the trials, most of whom remembered her as a much grander lady than she had been portrayed at the time. Friends also said she never fully recovered her sense of self-worth that was dashed in the first trial. Her surviving daughter, Dee, told the press that even in the painful last stages of cancer, Priscilla refused to take pain medication because of the claims made by Haynes.

T. Cullen Davis, 2003
T. Cullen Davis, 2003 (AP/Wide World)
Now in his late 60s, T. Cullen Davis could still be tried for the death of Stan Farr and the assaults on Bev Bass and Bubba Gavrel. From time-to-time a newspaper columnist will recall the trial, still one of the most expensive in Texas history, and call on justice to be done.

To date no prosecutor has stepped forward to take on T. Cullen Davis, money or no money.

People on all sides of the issue have often speculated about whether the outcome would have been different had Cullen not been one of the richest men in Texas. Cullen himself admits that it might.

I was able to pay for what I needed to be found not guilty, he said in 2000. If I had not had the money to hire the people I hired to investigate what went on and everything that we used and needed, I might have been sitting in prison right now.

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