- They found her son, but it wasn’t the call Loretta Davis ever hoped to receive, she said.
Randy Davis had been missing for one year and four months. An analysis of dental records confirmed he was dead.
His remains were found in a wooded area off of Horse Pen Bay Road near Aynor last week less than a mile away from a home where he was last seen.
“The cause of death is undetermined due to the condition … (of) the remains,” Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler wrote in an email on Tuesday. “At this time it is not believed to be a homicide or suicide.”
The coroner’s office and the Horry County Police Department are continuing to investigate what happened to Davis in the moments before his death.
But his family is certain – it wasn’t a suicide, accidental or natural death that took his life.
“We’re not going to stop now until we get justice for him,” said Randy’s mother, Loretta Davis.
“Justice will be served one way or another,” said Kristie Davis, Randy’s sister.
Randy McLaurin Davis, a father of two, was reported missing on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 – two days after he was dropped off at a house on Marshland Road – less than a mile from where officers recovered his body and his ID on May 10.
The day he went missing
McLaurin Davis last saw his 26-year-old son when he dropped him off at a friend’s house at the end of Marshland Road in the Aynor area around dinner time on Jan. 21, 2016.
When he dropped him off, he said, his son told the friend he often came to hang out with that “he didn’t want any drama.”
“I think they had drama there that night,” McLaurin Davis said on Tuesday standing alongside Horse Pen Bay Road, near where the body of his son, Randy, was found.
A resident of the Marshland home and Davis’ friend, Natalie Smith, said he ran out in a panic, supposedly after seeing headlights and claiming someone was after him.
McLaurin Davis said Smith called him twice that night reporting Randy ran out the back door and that they couldn’t find him.
But McLaurin Davis said Randy would sometimes go off by himself and they knew he would call if he was in trouble.
As the days went by with no phone call from Randy, his family said they began to suspect the worst.
“I know something happened like this because he would’ve called,” McLaurin Davis said.
Family members were still waiting on a call from Randy more than a year later.
McLaurin Davis refused to get a new cellphone when his phone’s display stopped working, not wanting to miss a call from his son, he said. He was forced to get a new one when it stopped working completely, but he kept his old number.
“We still kind of had that hope, but we kind of felt that we knew what had happened and we knew we weren’t going to get (that call),” Loretta Davis said. “But we still had that piece of hope until all this came about.”
Plagued by rumors
Family and friends started searching the area around the Marshland Road house on an almost daily basis that January when Randy disappeared, but found no signs of him.
“I just don’t think he was there (when we searched),” McLaurin Davis said.
McLaurin Davis took a week off from work at a local resort company to search for his son. After 35 years with the company, he said, he was fired when he returned to work.
Questions of where Randy was and if he was dead or alive plagued the Davis family for months.
Rumors of what happened to him plagued the family, too.
McLaurin Davis said he heard his son was “cut up and carried to Gunter’s Island.” They searched Gunter Island, but found no clues.
“They told us he’s been shot, he was stabbed, he was cut up into four pieces and put into a trash bag and that’s a question I asked the detectives the other day,” Loretta Davis said.
She asked if Randy had been “chopped up,” but detectives didn’t think so, she said.
“I had somebody tell me that they burned him in a fire pit,” Kristie Davis said. “You would not believe some of the heartless (things) people have said.”
Horry County police had been looking for Randy, who was wanted for missing a court date, before he disappeared. Family members suspected his past drug use and run-ins with law enforcement may have stalled the initial search to find him.
Police combed the muddy woods near the house on Jan. 29, 2016, searching on foot and all-terrain vehicles against the windy chill of the day. Officers would not say what, if anything, was found in that search, but it wouldn’t be their last.
Family, friends and officers continued to search for Davis in the following months throughout the county along with members of CUE Center for Missing Persons.
They finally got a lead that led them to a body last week.
A body recovered
Police searched the home Randy Davis was reportedly last seen running out of on Tuesday, May 9.
Officers of the Horry County Police Department’s vice unit went to the house on Marshland Road with arrest warrants for 24-year-old Kristan Mandie Smith, a sister of Natalie Smith. They found her inside and arrested others at the scene before obtaining a search warrant for the property.
Other than a small amount of meth and drug paraphernalia in the home and knives and machetes concealed in a car that pulled up on scene, officers were mum in a censored report about what was found in the search.
The next morning, police and CUE conducted another search in the woods less than a mile away and discovered Randy’s remains.
Krystal Dotson, a public information officer with the Horry County Police Department, could not confirm if the police action at the home and the search in the woods were connected.
Randy was wearing blue jeans and a gray jacket the night he went missing. It was the same type of clothing officers found with the human remains last week, according to Loretta Davis. They knew it was him, she said.
Randy’s body was released to a local funeral home in Horry County on Tuesday. The family is making funeral arrangements, but limited funds delay his burial.
A GoFundMe page (http://bit.ly/2pS3PsO) has been set up to help cover funeral expenses.
Loretta Davis says they are grateful for the detectives and CUE for not giving up on finding her son.
“We’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep fighting until we get justice for Randy,” she said. “It’s been a long hard year and four months waiting to get our son back… It’s still hard.”
“It’s taken so much out of all of us,” Kristie Davis said. “You feel like your heart is in your feet. You don’t know which way to go or what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Dotson said that no suspects had been named in the investigation of Randy’s death and no arrests had been made as of Tuesday afternoon.
Anyone with information about Randy’s death is asked to call the Horry County Police Department’s tip line at 843-915-8477. Crime tips can be left anonymously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.