Police: Murder suspect's Hummer not linked to body found in Phenix City

benw@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 3, 2013 

No evidence from Sylvester Davis’ Hummer has been linked to the body of Yamisha Thomas who was found in a shallow grave more than two years ago in south Phenix City, a police detective testified Wednesday.

Much of the evidence collected in the murder investigation was considered during a 4 p.m. Wednesday deposition before Judge Albert Johnson in Russell County Circuit Court. Davis, 31, is charged with murder in the death of his ex-girlfriend and his trial is set for 9 a.m. Oct. 21.

A deposition was videotaped from retired Phenix City police detective Michael Vargo because he will be in Ecuador when the trial starts.

Thomas, 30, of Columbus went missing on April 22, 2011, after she left a Brandywine Drive home for Opelika, Ala. Her remains were found a month later in a wooded lot off Third Street South in Phenix City.

Arriving at the scene about 6:05 p.m. on May 23, Vargo told prosecutor Max Smith that he found a king size mattress over a mound of dirt with a thin layer of concrete. The area smelled of death and it was filled with flies and a large quantity of maggots. A foot was exposed from the grave and Vargo found an orange fingernail about 18 feet from the mattress.

Some 217 photos were taken and dirt was collected from the scene before Vargo left about 1:30 a.m. May 24.

As the investigation continued, Vargo said he went to the Columbus Police Department three days later and photographed Thomas’ 2006 Chevy Avalanche. The vehicle was moved to Downing Drive in Phenix City where a sample of carpet was taken.

The suspect’s Hummer H3 was found at the Auto Mart in Columbus where Vargo also took photos of it. “It was clean,” the officer said.

The inside of the vehicle was sprayed with a chemical which would indicate blood but none was detected. A section of carpet also was taken from the Hummer. No mattress fibers were found in the back of the Hummer, the officer said.

Walter Gray, the Phenix City defense attorney for Davis, questioned whether the king size mattress found at the scene could be placed in the Hummer. Vargo said folding the mattress would get it into the vehicle.

The same question was asked about the victim’s Avalanche, although it had a shorter bed. “I believe if it was length wise, it was possible,” Vargo said.

The officer also testified the woman’s vehicle was processed by a Columbus police technician but he’s not aware of the results. “I was advised it already had been processed,” Vargo said. “I am not aware of the results.”

Three weeks before the woman’s remains were found, Davis was arrested on a probation violation and held in the Muscogee County Jail. He was charged in connection with the murder of Thomas in early June 2011.

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