Death At Mile Marker 181: What Really Happened To Jaleayah Davis?
It was ruled an accident, but questions still surround the 2011 car crash that allegedly killed the 20-year-old — including suspicions of a cover-up.
MARIETTA, OH — On November 19, 2011, Jaleayah Davis, age 20, reportedly left home to spend an evening out with Kristin Bechtold, a friend she was said to have known for several months. Also along for the night, reportedly, were pals named Jordan Campbell, Freddie Scott, and Katy Nelson.
Just a few hours later, Jaleayah was dead and her body was horrifically maimed. It happed as a result of a car wreck that continues to generate controversy as to what actually happened. Police claim it was an accident. Jaleayah’s family and others maintain that there is more to this case that needs to be reexamined.
Kim Davis, Jaleayah’s mom, has stated that nothing seemed unusual at first. She said she was in touch with Jaleayah throughout the evening, as was Taubi Davis, her other daughter and Jaleayah’s sister.
According to Kim, Jaleayah called Taubi at around 3:23 A.M., asking her sister to come pick her up at a gas station. Taubi has alleged that, during this conversation, she heard Jaleayah tell Bechtold, “Give me my keys!”
Five minutes later, Taubi said, Jaleayah called back and changed her pick-up location to a rest stop off I-77, just across the border in West Virginia.
Taubi further alleges that, during this call, Jaleayah sounded “hysterical” — crying, cursing, and calling Bechtold names. When Taubi asked what was wrong, she said Jaleayah replied, “I will tell you when you get here.”
At 3:48 A.M., police say a truck driver called 911 to report what appeared to be a dead body in the passing lane of the interstate. It was Jaleayah, and the details of her condition were gruesome.
Kim said that Jaleayah was discovered naked from the waist up. She had reportedly been decapitated, her right breast was missing, and one of her legs was broken in half.
Responders said they found Jaleayah’s car a fifth of a mile up the road, still running, with the doors locked and the headlights on.
According to Kim, Jaleayah’s clothing had been laid, neatly folded, on the guardrail next to her remains, with her bra placed atop her shirt, and her shirt placed atop her coat.
Later that same day, Kristin Bechtold reportedly obtained a lawyer, who is said to have returned Jaleayah’s keychain from his client to the police.
After a 16-month investigation, police concluded that Jaleayah had been driving and was ejected from the driver’s side window after striking a guardrail and she was then hit by a tractor trailer in the passing traffic lane.
The Ohio Medical Examiner’s Office subsequently ruled Jaleayah’s death an accident, with alcohol being a contributing factor. The Wood County Sheriff’s Office considers the case closed.
Kim Davis and other independent investigators maintain, though, that evidence indicates Jaleayah had been hit by her own vehicle and that she fatally struck her head on a guardrail post.
From there, the dissenting theory claims, the driver kept moving at a high rate of speed, smashing Jaleayah’s head against other posts as the car dragged her body 82 feet into the passing lane, where her body was found.
In addition, Kim has pointed out that three of the individuals who had been with Jaleayah — Kristin Bechtold, Katy Nelson, and Freddie Scott — were the children of current or former Parkersburg police officers.
The case took an odd turn in 2013 when Ember Stafford, a Marietta resident who claimed to be a witness to the wreck, was sentenced to six months in jail for making a false report.
Stafford allegedly said she saw another car force Jaleayah’s vehicle off the road, causing the accident. After police investigated her claims for 30 hours, Stafford reportedly admitted she was lying.
Kim and Taubi Davis have kept the case actively discussed online via the Facebook page, Justice for Jaleayah. Additionally, Kim continues to share files she has obtained through the Freedom of Information act and raise questions that they bring up.
In April 2013, the internet activist group Anonymous claimed its members would be taking action to expose an alleged police cover-up in the Davis case. To date, nothing has come of any such action.
In 2018, Emily Nestor, who grew up in the area but never met Jaleayah, launched the podcast Mile Marker 181 to probe further into what happened. It has since become a popular listen in the true crime community.
The case was profiled on a 2019 episode of the ID series Still a Mystery. Kim, Taubi, and Nestor participated in the filming. Writing online, Kim expressed gratitude for the appearance and asked readers to keep posting about the family’s investigation, stating, “When you share this, there is always that chance that someone will see it and be able to help us get Justice for Jaleayah!”
For more on the case of Jaleayah Davis, watch Investigation Discovery's Still a Mystery on ID GO!
Read more: Marietta Times, Marietta Times (2), WebSleuths, Unresolved Mysteries, WTAP, Justice for Jaleayah Facebook page