MISSOULA, Mont. — Monday morning, Missoula law enforcement officials announced the end of a 46-year-old mystery that’s haunted detectives and the community for decades.
Siobhan McGuinness went missing Feb. 5, 1974, a few blocks from her Northside Missoula home. Her body was found two days later near the Turah exit on Interstate 90, murdered and sexually assaulted.
Through modern DNA technology and help from state and federal partners, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office cold case squad identified Richard William Davis, now deceased, as the suspect. He would have been 32 at the time of Siobhan’s disappearance.
“It really means the world. My dad never thought that he would see this happen in his lifetime,” said Oona McGuinness, Siobhan’s half-sister. “It's a big deal. It's a really big deal for us, and it's a huge deal for the Missoula community. This affected almost everybody that lived there at that time and probably still some today.”
Missoula Police Chief Jaeson White says Davis died in Arkansas in 2012. It’s believed he was just traveling through the Missoula area when Siobhan disappeared.
He said Davis hasn’t been convicted or suspected of other crimes, but Missoula authorities provided all of his information to the FBI violent criminal apprehension program to possibly help with other unsolved cases.
White says they don’t know why Davis was in Missoula at the time but found his vehicle matched the description of the suspect vehicle from 1974, and his physical description matches what was given by two key witnesses.
An obituary for Davis says he was a born-again Christian and is survived by a wife and four daughters.
In her statements in a Monday press conference, Oona McGuinness said the Davis family has reached out to them, and called them kind people.
“They sent us a very lovely statement to our family from theirs, and they are also experiencing their own new family tragedy,” McGuiness said. “So I would like to ask that you know anybody who is looking at this case --please also respect their privacy as they are healing right now as well and had absolutely no idea that somebody that they loved would have been capable of such a thing.”
Siobhan’s father, Stephen McGuinness, thanked the Missoula police and specifically now-retired Detective Dean Chrestensen.
“46 years is a very long space of time to be in a state of unending grief and sorrow for one as beautiful and as amazing as Siobhan,” McGuinness said through tears.
Attorney General Tim Fox praised the collaborative work of many state and federal agencies that led to this case being solved, also highlighting other ways the state is using DNA technology to crack unsolved cases. He told the McGuinness family he hopes this leads to closure.
"I wish I could embrace you, hug you and cry with you, but we'll let this pandemic subside and hopefully do that very soon," Fox said.
State Rep. Kimberly Dudik spoke on behalf of Siobhan’s mother, thanking the Missoula Police Department for solving “an unthinkable crime that ripped apart our lives and the lives of everyone in Missoula in 1974.”
She said some of Siobhan’s ashes are buried near the “M” on Mount Sentinel, and some were thrown from the Higgins Avenue Bridge, overlooking what is now Brennan’s Wave.
Dudik said plans are currently in the works with the Zootown Arts Community Center to create a permanent memorial, a rooftop sculpture garden, as a living remembrance.