Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ricky and Dena

Charges Mount

Sherry Ballew was right. The second victim was her daughter, Michelle Ricci. After their arrest in the Spicer case, Davis and Riley admitted to murdering Ricci as well.

Michelle Ricci
Michelle Ricci

If anything, her fate was even more cruel.

She apparently agreed to sleep with Davis and Riley in exchange for meth. Using drugs to control the woman, the couple kept Ricci as a sex slave for three days in late April, subjecting her to rape, beatings, torture and choking.

Ricci was still alive after several days of abuse, but the couple feared she would go to police if they released her. Davis decided she must die.

They bound her with speaker wire and drove to a wooded rural spot near Liberty, Mo. Riley dropped them off, and Davis did the dirty work. He first tried to strangle her with rope. When that failed, he suffocated the woman, according to prosecutors.

Concerned about leaving evidence, the killers returned the following day, drenched Ricci's body with lighter fluid and set it on fire. It lay undiscovered for a month. Davis and Riley led authorities to the body after their arrest.

Although law enforcement officials initially feared that other victims might turn up, they now are confident that Spicer and Ricci were the only homicides.

Dozens of secondary felony charges have been filed against the killers in those two murders, including multiple counts of rape, assault and sodomy.

This fall, Missouri prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty against Davis and Riley in each of the murders.

The Spicer case is being prosecuted in Jackson County and the Ricci case in Clay County, where the murders occurred.

"The most vile and criminal act should be subject to the ultimate punishment," said Clay County Prosecutor Daniel White.

"Morally, ethically, we think this case merits the death penalty," added Jackson County Prosecutor Sanders. "There is no negotiation at that point...The crime was wanton, vile, and inhuman."

The couple also face federal prosecution in the kidnapping and sexual assault of Davis' niece.

The Jackson County murder prosecution is expected to take precedent, although any trial may not occur until 2008.

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