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Waco police make murder arrest in woman's 1991 death

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Officials arrested a suspect on a murder charge Tuesday in the death of a woman almost 31 years ago in Waco.

Harold Gene Givens, 65, was arrested Tuesday at his home on a murder charge in the 1991 death of Rita Davis, 28, according to a Waco police press release.

harold gene givens

Givens

At the time of Davis’ death, detectives learned Givens and Davis had gotten into a fight on Sept. 21, 1991, leading two friends they were with to leave and later return to find Givens and Davis gone, the press release says.

Davis was found dead the next day near Seventh Street and McKinney Avenue missing her pants and underwear, the press release says. An autopsy showed Davis died of blunt force injuries to the head and a hemorrhage to the neck, and a sexual assault examination resulted in the discovery of sperm.

Givens and the two friends with Davis and Givens gave conflicting statements on whether the fight happened the night before or several days before Davis was found, but police collected saliva and blood samples from Givens, according to the press release. Technological limitations meant it was not until 2006 that Waco detectives could link DNA evidence to Givens, the press release says.

A cold case detective and special crimes detective re-interviewed Givens this year, and Givens said he hit Davis multiple times with his fist after becoming angry when she asked for more drugs, as they had been smoking crack together, according to the press release.

Shipley said an arrest was not made following the 2006 DNA retesting because the detective on the case retired and the case was reassigned to another detective in the special crimes unit. Shipley said the special crimes unit had to investigate cold cases as well as other active and recent cases, and did not have a detective to solely investigate cold cases until last year. After the cold case detective was able to investigate the case, he realized an arrest was possible, Shipley said.

Investigative work from 1991, 1992, 2006 and more recently contributed to the arrest, the press release says.

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