Ricky and Dena
After living four years in the controlled regimen of juvenile jail, Ricky Davis had difficulty functioning as a free adult.
He worked a series of short-term jobs — as a Shoney's restaurant cook, a construction worker, and at a car wash, gas station, truck stop and manufacturing plant, according to the Kansas City newspaper.
Something always went wrong: He didn't like working nights; his boss was abusive; the commute was too much.
Davis, never long on motivation, turned to the quick and dirty money that crime can provide. But he was a failure at that, too.
He was caught a number of times by authorities in several northwest Missouri counties. A file full of cases was combined into a single prosecution, and in February 1984, Davis was convicted of burglary, theft and receiving stolen property.
Not yet 22 years old, he was sentenced to three years in prison.
In trying to stave off hard time, Davis had snitched on a pal. As a result, he was a marked man behind bars and served his time in protective confinement, segregated for his own safety from the prison population.
He was paroled in April 1986, after 26 months. But freedom was fleeting.
It isn't clear whether Davis had had violent episodes earlier in life. Records of the specific offenses that led to juvenile custody are not public.
But in October 1987, Davis was accused of raping and sodomizing a woman at knifepoint at the home of his mother near Lexington, Mo., in Lafayette County 45 minutes east of Kansas City.
Davis first denied the allegation then later claimed he had had consensual sex with the woman. Eventually, though, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison, where he celebrated every consecutive birthday from ages 24 to 40.