On October 1, 1993, Mark and Eve Klaas experienced every parent’s worst nightmare. Polly Klaas, 12, and her friends Kate, 12, and Jillian, also 12, were having a slumber party in Petaluma, California, on a Friday night. They were having a great time dancing and listening to music. The girls had no idea what would happen to them in a matter of hours. Polly’s mother was sound asleep in the next room.
A man with a knife entered Polly’s bedroom around 11:00 p.m. He gagged the girls and covered their faces with pillowcases. He threatened to slit their throats if they screamed. He held a knife to Polly’s throat and dragged her out of the house. The crime was committed in less than five minutes.
Polly was never seen alive again.
The other two girls freed themselves and ran to the mother’s bedroom.
The mother called the Petaluma Police Department, and they called the FBI.
The investigators were aware that this was a strange abduction case that would be much more difficult to solve than a known abduction. A stranger has no connection to the victim or his or her family, making it nearly impossible to determine who committed the crime.
The majority of kidnappings are carried out by family members. However, after an investigation, Polly’s family was cleared.
Even though the two girls were witnesses, they were terrified. They did, however, describe the stranger and were able to create a composite sketch.
In a kidnapping case, the investigators know that the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours are crucial to finding the missing person alive. The police needed to act fast.
During their investigation, the FBI’s forensic team discovered a palm print on the bed railing. However, the palm print is only useful after a suspect has been identified.
Polly’s neighbors were questioned by the investigators. A helicopter flew overhead, a police dog was used, volunteers distributed flyers, and the police department worked 24 hours a day to bring Polly back.
As the police frantically searched for the kidnapper, an all-points alert was issued. Even Winona Ryder, a Petaluma native, offered a $200,000 reward for Polly’s safe return.
The FBI was notified by neighborhood children who saw a man standing in front of Polly’s house. He fit the description given by the two girls. Other people noticed a strange man loitering around, but no one reported him to the police.
Time Was Slipping
The police’s chances of finding Polly alive were dwindling with each passing day.
On the same day Polly was kidnapped, two sheriff’s deputies apprehended a trespasser, Richard Allen Davis, and drove his car into a ditch. They assisted him in getting the car out and then let him go. They had no idea he was the man who kidnapped Polly.
However, the police had no idea who had kidnapped Polly. She was nowhere to be found.
Two Months Later
A local property manager named Dana went to inspect her property two months later, near where the police found the trespasser, when she noticed a pair of girl’s tights, a piece of cloth, and packaging tape on the ground. She called the cops right away.
Later, the FBI confirmed that the items belonged to Polly Klaas. Davis was then linked to the trespasser by the cops.
Davis was stopped on the road by a deputy, and he was arrested and taken into police custody. Davis had a lengthy criminal record, including robbery, kidnapping, and attempted rape. He spent the majority of his life in and out of jail.
In a lineup, the two girls identified Davis as the kidnapper. The police had finally got their man.
They Got Him
The palm print was found to be a match. The cops had him, and he was well aware of it.
Davis admitted to kidnapping and mu*rder. He directed the authorities to the location of the deceased girl’s body. Polly was buried in a shallow grave 30 miles from Petaluma.
He strangled her, and she was almost certainly raped.
Davis was found guilty of kidnapping, mur*der, and a lewd act on a child by a jury. He had been sentenced to death by lethal injection. In San Quintin, California, he is currently on death row. He has not yet exhausted all of his legal options.
Following his daughter’s mur*der, Marc Klass successfully lobbied for California’s “Three Strikes Law,” which states that if you commit three violent or serious felonies, you will be sentenced to life in prison.