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The incredible saga of a successful family man who hid his murderous past for 50 years

Shirley Campbell threw a woman off a roof in 1958. Edward Davis lived a long, free life.

campbelldavis Source: US Marshal, Northern District of Ohio

ON 17 JANUARY 1958, Shirley Campbell stepped into a lift with Sylvesta Andy, at the Mercy Hospital in Hamilton, Ohio.

He was a 20-year-old orderly there. She was a 19-year-old nursing student, but had been a patient at the hospital for a week.

Inside the lift, Campbell made sexual advances on Andy, and attempted to rape her.

She fought back, and when the elevator reached the top, fled on to the roof of the hospital.

He threw her over the edge, and Sylvesta Andy fell 75 feet to her death, on the street below. A newspaper report at the time said bite marks were found on her arm and shoulder.

andycampbell Sylvesta Andy and Shirley Campbell Source: Jet Magazine, courtesy of Siler, David (USMS)

Almost five decades later, Campbell died of a heart attack at his home in Roswell, New Mexico – after living his life on the run.

He invented a past, changed his name, passed himself off as a Vietnam War veteran, went to college, married, had children, got a Master’s degree, and even worked for the government.

This week, a six-month investigation laid bare the incredible story of a dangerous murderer who escaped justice and lied to his family, and the world, until his death.

“They claimed I threw her off of the fifth floor…”

Shirley Campbell Booking Photo (1) Source: Siler, David (USMS)

The day after the murder, Shirley Campbell was arrested at the home he shared with his 18-year-old wife Dorothy, on Dixie Highway, in Hamilton.

Campbell was on parole at the time on charges related to a robbery and attempted sexual assault of a taxi driver.

He was convicted in June 1958, and the couple divorced in September.

Judge Peter Paul Boli sentenced him to life in prison, and recommended that the then 21-year-old never be granted parole, even after his mandatory 20 years.

In the trial of the case, a psychiatrist…testified that he was not insane but that he was anti-social, and because of this, no matter how much punishment he would receive, he could never change his character so as to be safe to be turned loose in public.
Because of the sex angle, in our opinion he should not be paroled or his sentence commuted when he has served 20 years in the Ohio State Penitentiary.

Escape from the prison pig farm

campbellprison Undated prison photo of Shirley Campbell. Source: US Marshal, Northern District of Ohio

Almost 14 years into his sentence, Campbell was assigned to work in the prison’s pig farm at Chillicothe Correctional Institution in Ohio.

On 28 December 1972, Campbell escaped the piggery. Law enforcement searched the area for Campbell, but never found him.

For more than four decades, the man who murdered and tried to rape Sylvesta Andy was in the wind.

But in April this year, the cold case unit of the US Marshals Service - which is responsible for tracking down fugitives, among other duties – began putting the pieces together.

This week, they published their astonishing findings.

Shirley Edward Campbell becomes “Edward Davis”

davislicenseCA Edward Davis' 1989-issued California driver's licence. Source: US Marshals Office, Northern District of Ohio

Some time after his escape, Shirley Edward Campbell changed his name to Edward Davis, took on an invented identity, and moved to the Los Angeles area.

According to a statement sent to TheJournal.ie by the US Marshals Office in the Northern District of Ohio:

[He] preyed on the willingness of others to help, and allegedly told others that he lost his wife and two daughters in a fire.
In order to conceal his identity, [he] claimed he was adopted as a child. [He] also falsely claimed to have served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War.

At some point in the mid-1980s, Davis moved to Roswell, New Mexico, and married a woman who was never to find out about his dark past, and died before him.

He went to college, and got a BS in Sociology from Eastern New Mexico University. In 1989, Davis remarried, this time to Sandy Phillips in Las Vegas.

When officials revealed her husband’s past life, earlier this year, Phillips reacted with “total disbelief,” according to Deputy Marshal David Siler.

In 1991, Davis went on to get a Master’s degree in Psychology, according to his obituary.

davislicenseNM Edward Davis' 2003-issued New Mexico driver's licence. Source: US Marshal, Northern District of Ohio

In or around 1996, he was even hired by the government – becoming a New Mexico Department of Labour employment counselor supervisor, a position he would hold for seven and a half years

davisbusinesscard Edward Ed Davis' business card. Source: US Marshal, Northern District of Ohio

On 21 May 2004, Davis died at home of a massive heart attack, at the age of 67.

He married twice, had two daughters, six grandchildren, a stepdaughter and a stepson.

It wasn’t until this week that the world discovered what he – Shirley Campbell – did to Sylvesta Andy, more than 57 years ago.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, US Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio, Pete Elliott said:

I’m just really proud of the work of these investigators. They were able to do in six months, what hasn’t been done in six decades.

Contains additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Read: Man spends 40 years on the run, turns himself in because he needs medical treatment>

Read: The only woman on ‘America’s Most Wanted’ has been captured with her husband>

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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