On February 7, 2023, the Lexington Police Department announced that Russell Grant Wood was the lead suspect in the May 30, 1987 rape and murder of Mary Mathis Davis in Lexington, North Carolina. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Wood.
Davis’ remains were found behind a Winn-Dixie on May 31, 1987 – the day after she disappeared. She was last seen at her job at Lanier’s Ace Hardware Store. She left for a break, and never returned. The autopsy found that she had been sexually assaulted and that she died by strangulation.
The FGG investigation was conducted by Othram in partnership with the Lexington Police Department and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, beginning in 2022.
Wood, who was from Lexington, died in 2013 at the age of 58. It was reported that Wood and Davis may have known each other, but further information about the nature of their relationship has not been made available.
DeBone, Maria, Carrie Hodgin, and Veronica Leasure. “Suspect Identified in 1987 Cold Case Murder of Lexington Woman.” WX11 NBC News 2, February 7, 2023. Accessed February 8, 2023. https://www.wxii12.com/article/north-carolina-cold-case-murder-mary-mathis-davis/42789080.
Myers, Sharon. “Lexington Police Solve 36 Year Old Murder Case Through DNA Evidence.” The Dispatch, February 7, 2023. Accessed February 8, 2023. https://www.the-dispatch.com/story/news/2023/02/07/lexington-police-solve-36-year-old-murder-case-through-dna-evidence-mary-davis-cold-nc-sbi/69882835007/.
Vogen, Michael. “NC State Bureau of Investigation and Lexington PD Team with Othram to Identify the 1987 Rapist and Murderer of Mary Mathis Davis.” DNASolves.com, February 7, 2023. Accessed February 8, 2023. https://dnasolves.com/articles/nc-state-bureau-lexington-mary-mathis-davis/.