ANDERSON — The day after Mona Joslin Davis was reported missing in Anderson, her niece, Dallie Gipson wanted a story about her aunt’s disappearance to run in the newspaper.
Anderson police, however, told The Herald Bulletin that Davis, 53, was not missing.
“She’s spoken with the family and told her daughter that she’s leaving for Florida,” Maj. Joel Sandefur said in a voicemail the morning of June 20. “The landlord said the apartment’s been vacated. Family members are saying mom is cutting ties with the kids and that she was moving to Florida.
“It matches up with other accounts of her intentions.”
But that evening, police found Davis’ body in her apartment about 5:30 p.m. A friend of Davis', Nicole Mitchell, later told The Herald Bulletin that Davis' body was concealed.
Management at Madison Square, where Davis was living at the time of her death, did not return calls seeking comment for this article.
Gipson, who lives in Georgia, said they learned Davis was missing after being contacted by Mitchell, who worked with Davis for four months at the Indiana Department of Transportation.
Mitchell said she reported Davis as a missing person June 18.
“That was my surrogate mother,” said Mitchell of the close relationship she had with Davis.
Mitchell said the last time she saw Davis was at work June 5. She said the two had bonded over events in their personal lives, and at one point she even asked Davis to come and stay with her because she was worried about her.
“She told me no,” said Mitchell, breaking into tears. “She was going to call when she got home — but she never called.”
Mitchell was worried, but she thought Davis was dealing with a personal situation. So she gave her friend “space.”
But two days passed, Mitchell said, she knew something was terribly wrong. She said she pushed her employer to ask the Anderson Police Department for a welfare check, which the APD did on June 12.
“The police originally said the address we had was wrong, and they did not have the proper address to do a welfare check,” Mitchell said. “I gave them the correct address, and they said they went out there and no one was there.
“But they said they talked to her on the phone and she had moved to Florida.”
Officers told Mitchell’s employer that Davis took a job with the Florida Department of Transportation, according to Mitchell, who contacted the agency and was told Davis was not an employee.
“I kept pushing and kept pushing,” Mitchell said of her attempts to find Davis.
On June 18, Mitchell filed a missing person report.
“The detective said a phone call should not have sufficed, after I questioned him about how they are running their operations,” Mitchell said of Anderson police. “I asked him, ‘How can you verify that it was her that you talked to on the phone?’ He said they must have dropped the ball on some stuff.”
Mitchell said another co-worker went to talk with neighbors about Davis’ disappearance and reported that a foul odor was emanating from her apartment.
“He went to file a missing persons report, but I had already filed one,” Mitchell said. “He said the cop had dismissed the smell as that of her cats because there was feces and urine everywhere.”
Mitchell said she was told Anderson police officers went inside the apartment at least twice after she reported her friend missing, but Davis’ body was not located until June 20.
“I don’t think they were taking it seriously,” Mitchell said.
Sandefur contacted The Herald Bulletin the day after Davis’ body was found to request that the information he left in the voicemail not be publicly shared. He said the request was made to preserve the integrity of the case.
“What I was not wanting you to do was release sensitive information about Mona Davis that could potentially hurt an ongoing investigation,” he said.
Sandefur said officers did make a welfare check and those checks can be made without physically seeing the person. He also reconfirmed Davis had vacated the apartment.
“That’s a lie," Mitchell said. "There are still items in her apartment today."
She said she returned to the apartment two days after police found Davis in order to rescue the cats which had been left inside, and it was obvious Davis had never moved out.
"Maintenance had opened the windows — so the decomposing smell could get out — and we got them out of a window," Mitchell said of the cats.
Gipson was upset when she learned that police had said her aunt was not missing on the same day her body was found.
“That’s all messed up,” Gipson said. “We didn’t understand why they didn’t have something out there as soon as they found out she was missing. They need to be held accountable. That’s part of their job — to find missing people.”
She said the family is devastated because no one has been charged in Davis’ death. Michelle Myers, Gipson’s mother and Davis’ sister, said she is frustrated with Anderson police.
“It pisses me off,” said Myers, who lives in Georgia. “It makes me wonder what they are doing with the actual case. I don’t trust them. I don’t feel like they are doing their job.”
She said nothing like this would happen where she lives.
“They don’t play,” Myers said. “Not in my town.”
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