Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ricky and Dena

Troubled Life

Richard Davis
Richard Davis

Ricky Davis and Dena Riley took different routes to arrive at the same place.Riley gave up a life. Davis never really had one.

One of four children, Davis grew up in the northeast Kansas City area. His childhood was defined by a bizarre accidental shooting incident, according to a profile in the Kansas City Star.

When he was about 6 years old, Davis fired a rifle shot that struck and wounded his father. His parents were soon divorced.

Davis' stepfather, Stan Cothern, had only sketchy details of the shooting incident, but he said it seemed to have a deep impact on the boy.

Davis was a truant and runaway by the time he reached middle-school age, and he dropped out altogether and left home as a seventh-grader.

He flopped with older friends or "just ran the streets," Cothern told the paper.

From ages 13 to 17, during the late 1970s, Davis spent most of his time in Missouri juvenile facilities. His mother was unable to control him, so the state sent him away for a series of crimes and violations, including theft, truancy and running away from home.

Davis was set free in the summer of 1982, just before his 18th birthday.

Dr. Seifert, author of the newly published book "How Children Become Violent," said Davis' childhood biography is straight from the diagnostic template for psychopaths and sociopaths.

She said the trauma of the shooting incident and the "detachment disorder" that results from broken families and long-term juvenile detention are red-flag risk factors for teens likely to become violent adults.

"They do not learn to attach to other people or develop relationships that teach them how what they do affects another person," she said. "They get stuck in a 'me-me-me' stage. That's normal when you're 2. But that's not normal when you're 22."

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