The Abduction and Brutal Murder Of 12-Year-Old Polly Klaas

The Abduction and Brutal Murder Of 12-Year-Old Polly Klaas

Every parent’s worst nightmare happened to Mark and Eve Klaas on October 1, 1993. It was a Friday night, and Polly Klaas, 12, and her friends, Kate,12, and Jillian, also 12, were having a slumber party in Petaluma, California. They were dancing, listening to music, and having a great time. The girls could never imagine the horror that would happen to them in a few hours. Polly’s mother was in the next room, asleep.

At around 11:00 pm, a man entered Polly’s bedroom carrying a knife. He gagged the girls and took pillowcases to cover their faces. He told them if they screamed, he would slit their throats. He grabbed Polly by knifepoint and dragged her out of the house. The crime took 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.

Stranger Abduction

The investigators knew that this was a stranger abduction case and that it would be much harder to solve than a known abduction. A stranger has no connection to the victim or the family, making it almost impossible to find out who did it.

In kidnapping cases, family members do most of the kidnapping. However, upon investigation, the Police quickly cleared Polly’s family.

The two girls were witnesses but still terrified. However, they described the stranger, and they were able to make 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.

The Evidence

The FBI’s forensic team found a palm print on the bed railing in their investigation. But the palm print is only good after you find a suspect.

The investigators questioned Polly’s neighbors. A helicopter was flying overhead, a police dog was used, volunteers passed out fliers, and the police department worked twenty-four hours to bring Polly back.

There was an all-points issued to find her as the police frantically searched for the kidnapper. Even famous actress Winona Ryder, also from Petaluma, offered a $200,000 reward for Polly’s return.

Neighborhood kids told the FBI they saw a man standing in front of Polly’s house. He matched the description the two girls gave. Other people noticed a strange man hanging around, but no one called the police.

Time Was Slipping

The chances of finding Polly alive were running out for the police with every passing day.

The same day that Polly was kidnapped, two sheriff deputies stopped a trespasser, Richard Allen Davis, and ran his car into a ditch. They helped him get the car out and then let him go. They had no way of knowing he was the man who kidnapped Polly.

However, the police still did not know who had taken Polly. There was no sign of her anywhere.

Two Months Later

Two months later, near where the police found the trespasser, a local property manager named Dana went to inspect her property when she noticed a pair of girl’s tights, a piece of cloth, and packaging tape on the ground. She immediately called the police.

The FBI later confirmed that the items belonged to Polly Klaas. The police, then, connected Davis with the trespasser.

A deputy stopped Davis on the road, and he was arrested and taken into police custody. The detectives learned that Davis had a massive rap sheet including robbery, kidnapping, and attempted rape. He was in out of jail most of his life.

In a lineup, the two girls identified Davis as the kidnapper. The police had finally got their man.

They Got Him

The palm print came back as a match. The police had him, and he knew it.

Davis confessed to the kidnapping and murder. He told the authorities where to find the dead girl’s body. He buried Polly in a shallow grave 30 miles from Petaluma.

He strangled her, and she was likely raped.

A jury found Davis guilty of kidnapping, murder, and a lewd act on a child. He was sentenced to die from lethal injection. He is currently on death row in San Quintin, California. He has not yet exhausted all his appeals.

After his daughter’s murder, Marc Klass successfully lobbied for California’s “Three Strikes Law,” which states that after three violent or severe felonies, you will serve a mandatory life sentence in California.