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Tampa police, family search for missing HCC student Ryan Davis

TAMPA — The family of a missing Hillsborough Community College student — last seen with a man police say was attacked, killed and dumped on a dirt road by his brother — said Monday it's continuing its search after more than two weeks of silence.

Ryan Jerard Darkins Davis, 20, was last seen April 5 with Carl G. Walters, 21, the victim of a brutal murder that night or early April 6, said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy.

That night, Davis told his mother, Robin Harris, that he would stay over with Walters and get a ride from him in the morning for a court appointment before class, she said.

Walters' brother, Derrick Eugene Cullins, was charged a week later with second-degree murder. Police say he attacked his brother at their home at 1810 Humphrey St. and dumped his body at 6416 Thonotosassa Road. Crime scene technicians at the home saw "signs of a struggle in every room," McElroy said.

"This is all so stressful," said Harris, who spent hours Sunday with friends of Davis' searching for clues in the woods near where Walters' body was found. "I'm trying so hard not to give up hope that he's out there alive."

Davis has been known to spend entire days on campus, participating in extracurricular activities like talent shows and studying to be a police officer, Harris said. Walters picked Davis up often but before the murder, never had him stay overnight.

A few days after Davis disappeared, Harris went to Cullins' home to ask about her son. But Cullins, she said, gave no answers and played with his cell phone when she asked for help.

Police examined the home after identifying Walters and found the carpet, sofa cushions and fabric from the sofa had been taken. Officers said they also found cuts on Cullins' fingers and buttocks, blood on his clothes and shoes, and a bite mark on his chest.

Cullins has told investigators that he was nowhere near Plant City between the time Walters was last seen alive and the time his body was found. Yet police say they have surveillance footage of Cullins using a credit card at a business roughly 4 miles from where Walters was dumped, McElroy said.

"He's strange. He doesn't act normal. He didn't seem concerned at all," Harris said.

Officers are now searching by ground and air a span of woods bordered by Thonotosassa Road, Martin Luther King Boulevard, County Road 579 and Park Road.

Tampa police, family search for missing HCC student Ryan Davis 04/20/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 20, 2009 11:56pm]
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